The Leading Facts of English History
by D.H. Montgomery
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V. General Industry and Commerce

157. Trade.

No very marked change took place in respect to agriculture or trade during the Norman period. Jews are mentioned in a few cases in Saxon records, but they apparently did not enter England in any number until after William the Conqueror's accession. They soon got control of much of the trade, and were the only capitalists of the time.

They were protected by the Kings in money lending at exorbitant rates of interest. In turn, the Kings extorted immense sums from them.

The guilds (S106), or associations for mutual protection among merchants and manufacturers, now became prominent, and in time they acquired great political influence.

VI. Mode of Life, Manners, and Customs.

158. Dress.

The Normans were more temperate and refined in their mode of living than the Saxons. In dress they made great display. In Henry I's reign it became the custom for the nobility to wear their hair very long, so that their curls resembled those of women. The clergy thundered against this effeminate fashion, but with no effect. At last, a priest preaching before the King on Easter Sunday, ended his sermon by taking out a pair of shears and cropping the entire congregation, King and all.

By the regulation called the curfew, a bell rang at sunset in summer and at eight in winter, which was the government signal for putting out lights and covering up fires. This law, which was especially hated by the English, as a Norman innovation and act of tyranny, was a necessary precaution against fire, at a time when London and other cities were masses of wooden hovels.

Surnames came in with the Normans. Previous to the Conquest, Englishmen had but one name; and when, for convenience, another was needed, they were called by their occupation or from some personal peculiarity, as Edward the Carpenter, Harold the Dauntless. Among the Normans the lack of a second, or family, name had come to be looked upon as a sign of low birth, and the daughter of a great lord (Fitz-Haman) refused to marry a nobleman who had but one, saying, "My father and my grandfather had each two names, and it were a great shame to me to take a husband who has less."

The principal amusements were hunting, and hawking (catching birds and other small game by the use of trained hawks).

The Church introduced theatrical plays, written and acted by the monks. These represented scenes in Scripture history, and, later, the careers of the Vices and the Virtues were personified.

Jousts and tournaments, or mock combats between knights, were not encouraged by William I, or his immediate successors, but became common in the period following the Norman Kings. On some occasions they were fought in earnest, and resulted in the death of one, or more, of the combatants.


"Man bears within him certain ideas of order, of justice, of reason, with a constant desire to bring them into play...; for this he labors unceasingly."—Guizot, "History of Civilization."



Consolidation of Norman and Saxon Interests—Rise of the New English Nation

Henry II, 1154-1189 Richard I, 1189-1199 John, 1199-1216 Henry III, 1216-1272 Edward I, 1272-1307 Edward II, 1307-1327 Edward III, 1327-1377 Richard II, 1377-1399

[1] Reference Books on this Period will be found in the Classified List of Books in the Appendix. The pronunciation of names will be found in the Index. The Leading Dates stand unenclosed; all others are in parentheses.

159. Accession and Dominions of Henry II.

Henry was just of age when the death of Stephen (S141) called him to the throne.

From his father, Count Geoffrey of Anjou, a province of France, came the title of Angevin. The name Plantagenet, by which the family came to be known later, was derived from the count's habit of wearing a sprig of the golden-blossomed broom plant, or Plante-gene^t, as the French called it, in his helmet.

Henry received from his father the dukedoms of Anjou and Maine, from his mother Normandy and the dependent province of Brittany, while through his marriage with Eleanor, the divorced Queen of France, he acquired the great southern dukedom of Aquitaine.

Thus on his accession he became ruler over all England, and over more than half of France besides, his realms extending from the borders of Scorland to the base of the Pyrenees. (See map facing p. 84.)

To these extensive possessions Henry added the eastern half of Ireland.[1] The country was but partially conquered and never justly ruled. The English power there remained "like a spear-point embedded in a living body," inflaming all around it.[2]

[1] Ireland: The population of Ireland at this time consisted mainly of descendants of the Celtic and other prehistoric races which inhabited Britain at the period of the Roman invasion. When the Saxons conquered Britain, many of the natives, who were of the same stock and spoke essentially the same language as the Irish, fled to that country. Later, the Danes formed settlements on the coast, especially in the vicinity of Dublin. The conquest of England by the Normans was practically a victory gained by one branch of the German race over another (Saxons, Normans, and Danes having originally sprung from the same Teutonic stock or from one closely akin to it, and the three soon mingled); but the partial conquest of Ireland by the Normans was a radically different thing. They and the Irish had really nothing in common. The latter refused to accept the feudal system, and continued to split up into savage tribes or clans under the rule of petty chiefs always at war with each other. Thus for centuries after England had established a settled government, Ireland remained, partly through the battles of the clans, and partly through the aggressions of a hostile race, in a state of anarchic confusion which prevented all true national growth. [2] W. E. H. Lecky's "England in the XVIIIth Century," II, 102.

160. Henry II's Charter and Reforms.

On his mother's side Henry was a descendent of Alfred the Great (S51); for this reason he was hailed with enthusiasm by the native English. He at once began a system of reforms worthy of his illustrious ancestor. His first act was to issue a charter confirming the Charter of Liberties or pledges of good government which his grandfather, Henry I, had made (S135). His next was to begin leveling to the ground the castles unlawfully built in Stephen's reign, which had caused such widespread misery to the country[3] (S141). He continued the work of demolition until it is said he destroyed no less than eleven hundred of these strongholds of oppression.

[3] Under William the Conqueror and his immediate successors no one was allowed to erect a castle without a royal license. During Stephen's time the great barons constantly violated this salutory regulation.

The King next turned his attention to the coinage. During the civil war (S141) the barons had issued money debased in quality and deficient in weight. Henry abolished this dishonest currency and issued silver pieces of full weight and value.

161. War with France; Scutage (1160).

Having completed these reforms, the King turned his attention to his Continental possessions. Through his wife, Henry claimed the county of Toulouse in southern France. To enforce this claim he declared war.

Henry's barons, however, refused to furnish troops to fight outside of England. The King wisely compromised the matter by offering to accept from each knight a sum of money in lieu of service, called scutage, or shield money.[1] The proposal was agreed to (1160), and in this way the knights furnished the King the means to hire soldiers for foreign wars.

[1] Scutage: from the Latin scutum, a shield; the understanding being that he who would not take his shield and do battle for the King should pay enough to hire one who would. The scutage was assessed at two marks. Later, the assessment varied. The mark was two thirds of a pound of silver by weight, or thirteen shillings and fourpence ($3.20). Reckoned in modern money, the tax was probably at least twenty times two marks, or about $128.

Later in his reign Henry supplemented this tax by the passage of the Assize of Arms, a law which revived the national militia (SS96, 150) and placed it at his command for home service. By these two measures the King made himself practically independent of the barons, and thus gained a greater degree of power than any previous ruler had possessed.

162. Thomas Becket.

There was, however, one man in Henry's kingdom—his Lord Chancellor (S145), Thomas Becket—who was always ready to serve him. At his own expense the Chancellor now equipped seven hundred knights, and, crossing the Channel, fought valiantly for the suppression of the rebellion in Toulouse (S161) in the south of France. (See map facing p. 84.)

Shortly after Becket's return from the Continent Henry resolved to appoint him Archbishop of Canterbury. Becket knew that the King purposed beginning certain Church reforms with which he was not in sympathy, and declined the office. But Henry would take no denial. At last Becket consented, but he warned the King that he should uphold the rights of the clergy. He now became the head of the Catholic Church in England. He was the first man of English birth called to that exalted position since the Norman Conquest.

This promotion made a decided change in Becket's relation to the King. So long as he was Chancellor he was bound to do what the King ordered, but as soon as he was made Archbishop he became the servant of the Church. Again, on his assumption of this sacred office Becket underwent a remarkable charge of character. He had been a man of the world, fond of pomp and pleasure. He now gave up all luxury and show. He put on sackcloth, lived on bread and water, and spent his nights in prayer, tearing his flesh with a scourge.

163. Becket's First Quarrel with the King.

The new Archbishop's presentiment of trouble soon proved true. Becket had hardly taken his seat when a quarrel broke out between him and the King. In his need for money Henry levied a tax on all lands, whether belonging to the barons or to churchmen. Becket opposed this tax.[1] He was willing, he said, that the clergy should contribute, if they desired to do so, but not that they should be compelled to pay the tax.

[1] See page 76, note 1, on Clergy.

The King declared with an oath that all should pay alike; the Archbishop vowed with equal determination that not a single penny should be collected from the Church. From that time the King and Becket never met again as friends.

164. The Second Quarrel.

Shortly afterward, a much more serious quarrel broke out between the King and the Archbishop. Under the law made by William the Conqueror, the Church had the right to try in its own courts all offenses committed by monks and priests (S118). This privilege, in time, led to great abuses, since even in cases of the commission of the gravest crimes the Church had no direct power to inflict the penalty of death. On the contrary, the heaviest sentence it could give was imprisonment in a monastery, with degradation from the clerical office; while in less serious cases the offenders generally got off with fasting and flogging.

On this account some criminals who deserved to be hanged escaped with a comparatively slight penalty. Such a case now occurred. In one instance a priest had committed an unprovoked murder. Henry commanded him to be brought before the Kings' court; Becket interfered, and ordered the case to be tried by the bishop of the diocese. The bishop simply sentenced the murderer to lose his place for two years.

165. The Constitutions of Clarendon, 1164.

The King determined that such flagrant disregard of justice should no longer go on. He called a council of his chief men at Clarendon, near Salisbury, in Wiltshire, and laid the case before them. He demanded that in future the state or civil courts should be supreme, and that in every instance their judges should decide whether a criminal should be tried by the common law of the land or handed over to the Church courts.

He furthermore required that the clergy should be held strictly responsible to the Crown, so that in case of dispute the final appeal should be neither to the Archbishop nor to the Pope, but to himself. In this respect he went even farther than William the Conqueror had done (S118). After protracted debate the council, composed of a committee of bishops and barons, passed the measures which the King demanded. The new laws were entitled the Constitutions of Clarendon. They consisted of sixteen articles which clearly defined the powers and jurisdiction of the King's courts and the Church courts. Their great object was to secure a more uniform administration of justice for all classes of men. (See the Constitutional Summary in the Appendix, pp. viii and xxxii.)

Becket, though bitterly oppsed to the new laws, finally assented, and swore to obey them. Afterward, feeling that he had conceded too much, he retracted his oath and refused to be bound by the Constitutions. The other Church dignitaries became alarmed at the prospect, and left Becket to settle with the King as best he might. Henceforth it was a battle between the King and the Archbishop, and each resolved that he would never give up until he had won the final victory (S170).

166. The King enforces the New Laws; Becket leaves the Country.

Henry at once proceeded to put the Constitutions of Clarendon into execution without fear or favor. A champion of the Church of that day says, "Then was seen the mournful spectacle of priests and deacons who had committed murder, manslaughter, robbery, theft, and other crimes, carried in carts before the comissioners and punished as thogh they were ordinary men."[1]

[1] William of Newburgh's "Chronicle."

Furthermore, the King sems now to have resolved to ruin Becket or drive him from the kingdom. He accordingly summoned the Archbishop before a royal council at Northampton to answer to certain charges made against him. Becket answered the summons, but he refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the council, and appealed to the Pope. "Traitor!" cried a courtier, as he picked up a bunch of muddy rushes from the floor and flung them at the Archbishop's head. Becket turned and, looking him sternly in the face, said, "Were I not a churchman, I would make you repent that word." Realizing, however, that he was now in serious danger, he soon after left Northampton and fled to France.

167. Banishment versus Excommunication (1164).

Finding Becket beyond his reach, Henry next proceeded to banish the Archbishop's kinsmen and friends, without regard to age or sex, to the number of nearly four hundred. These miserable exiles, many of whom were nearly destitute, were forced to leave the country in midwinter, and excited the pity of all who saw them.

Becket indignantly retaliated. He hurled at the King's counselors the awful sentence of excommunication or expulsion from the Church (S194). It declared the King accursed of God and man, deprived of help in this world, and shut out from hope in the world to come. In this manner the quarrel went on with ever-increasing bitterness for the space of six years.

168. Prince Henry crowned; Reconciliation (1170).

Henry, who had long wished to associate his son, Prince Henry, with him in the government, had him crowned at Westminster by the Archbishop of York, the bishops of London and Salisbury taking part.

By custom, if not indeed by law, Becket alone, as Archbishop of Canterbury, had the right to perform this ceremony.

When Becket heard of the coronation, he declared it an outrage both against Christianity and the Church. So great an outcry now arose that Henry believed it expedient to recall the absent Archbishop, especially as the King of France was urging the Pope to take up the matter. Henry accordingly went over to the Continent, met Becket, and persuaded him to return.

169. Reneral of the Quarrel; Murder of Becket (1170).

But though the Archbishop and the King had given each other the "kiss of peace," yet the reconciliation was on the surface only; underneath, the old hatred smoldered, ready to burst forth into flame. As soon as he reached England, Becket invoked the thunders of the Church against those who had officiated at the coronation of Prince Henry. He excommunicated the Archbishop of York with his assistant bishops.

The King took their part, and in an outburst of passion against Becket he exclaimed, "Will none of the cowards who eat my bread rid me of that turbulent priest?" In answer to his angry cry for relief, four knights set out without Henry's knowledge for Canterbury, and brutally murdered the Archbishop within the walls of his own cathedral.

170. Results of the Murder.

The crime sent a thrill of horror throughout the realm. The Pope proclaimed Becket a saint with the title of Saint Thomas. The mass of the English people looked upon the dead ecclesiastic as a martyr who had died in the defense of the Church, and of all those—but especially the laboring classes and the poor—around whom the Church cast its protecting power.

The great cathedral of Canterbury was hung in mourning; Becket's shrine became the most famous in England. The stone pavement, and the steps leading to it, still show by their deep-worn hollows where thousands of pilgrims coming from all parts of the kingdom, and from the Continent even, used to creep on their knees to the saint's tomb to pray for his intercession.

Henry himself was so far vanquished by the reaction in Becket's favor, that he gave up any further attempt to formally enforce the Constitutions of Clarendon (S165), by which he had hoped to establish a uniform system of administration of justice. But the attempt, though baffled, was not wholly lost; like seed buried in the soil, it sprang up and bore good fruit in later generations. However, it was not until near the close of the reign of George III (1813) that the civil courts fully and finally prevailed.

171. The King makes his Will; Civil War.

Some years after the murder, the King bequeathed England and Normandy (SS108, 159) to Prince Henry.[1] He at the same time provided for his sons Geoffrey and Richard. To John, the youngest of the brothers, he gave no territory, but requested Henry to grant him several castles, which the latter refused to do. "It is our fate," said one of the sons, "that none should love the rest; that is the only inheritance which will never be taken from us."

[1] After his coronation Prince Henry had the title of Henry III; but as he died before his father, he never properly became king in his own right.

It may be that that legacy of hatred was the result of Henry's unwise marriage with Eleanor, an able but perverse woman, or it may have sprung from her jealousy of "Fair Rosamond" and other favorites of the King.[1] Eventually this feeling burst out into civil war. Brother fought against brother, and Eleanor, conspiring with the King of France, turned against her husband.

[1] "Fair Rosamond" [Rosa mundi, the Rose of the world (as THEN interpreted)] was the daughter of Lord Clifford. According to tradition the King formed an attachment for this lady before his unfortunate marriage with Eleanor, and constructed a place of concealment for her in a forest in Woodstock, near Oxford. Some accounts report that Queen Eleanor discovered her rival and put her to death. She was buried in the nunnery of Godstow near by. When Henry's son John became King, he raised a monument to her memory with the inscription in Latin: "This tomb doth here enclose The world's most beauteous Rose— Rose passing sweet erewhile, Now naught but odor vile."

172. The King's Penance (1173).

The revolt against Henry's power began in Normandy (1173). While he was engaged in quelling it, he received intelligence that Earl Bigod of Norfolk[2] and the bishop of Durham, both of whom hated the King's reforms, since they curtailed their authority, had risen against him.

[2] Hugh Bigod: The Bigods were among the most prominent and also the most turbulent of the Norman barons.

Believing that this new trouble was a judgment from Heaven for Becket's murder, Henry resolved to do penance at his tomb. Leaving the Continent with two prisoners in his charge,—one his son Henry's queen, the other his own,—he traveled with all speed to Canterbury. There, kneeling abjectly before the grave of his former chancellor and friend, the King submitted to be beaten with rods by the priests, in expiation of his sin.

173. End of the Struggle of the Barons against the Crown.

Henry then moved against the rebels in the north (S171). Convinced of the hopelessness of holding out against his forces, they submitted. With their submission the long struggle of the barons against the Crown came to an end (SS124, 130). It had lasted nearly a hundred years (1087-1174).

The King's victory in this contest was of the greatest importance. It settled the question, once for all, that England was not, like the rest of Europe, to be managed in the interest of a body of great baronial landholders always at war with each other; but was henceforth to be governed by one central power, restrained but not overridden by that of the nobles and the Cuhrch.

174. The King again begins his Reforms (1176).

As soon as order was restored, Henry once more set about completing his legal and judicial reforms (S165). His great object was to secure a uniform system of administering justice which should be effective and impartial.

Henry I had undertaken to divide the kingdom into districts or circuits, which were assigned to a certain number of judges who traveled through them at stated times collecting the royal revenue and administering the law (SS137, 147). Henry II revised and perfected this plan.[1]

[1] This was accomplished by means of two laws called the Grand Assize and the Assize of Clarendon (not to be confounded with the Constitutions of Clarendon). The Assize of Clarendon was the first true code of national law; it was later expanded and made permanent under the name of the Assize of Northampton. (See the Constitutional Summary in the Appendix, p. vii, S8.)

In addition to the private courts which, under feudal law, the barons had set up on their estates (S150), they had in many cases got the entire control of the town and other local courts. There they dealt out such justice or injustice as they pleased. The King's judges now assumed control of these tribunals, and so brought the common law of the realm to every man's door.

175. Grand Juries.

The Norman method of settling disputed was by Trial by Battle, in which the contestants or their champions fought the matter out either with swords or cudgels (S148). There were those who objected to this club law. To them the King offered the privilege of leaving the decision of twelve knights, chosen from the neighborhood, who were supposed to know the facts. (See the Constitutional Summary in the Appendix, p. vi, S8.)

In like manner, when the judges passed through a circuit, a grand jury of not less than sixteen was to report to them the criminals of each district. These the judges forthwith sent to the Church to be examined by the Ordeal (S91). If convicted, they were punished; if not, the judges considered them to be suspicious characters, and ordered them to leave the country within eight days. In that way the rascals of that generation were summarily disposed of.

Henry II may rightfully be regarded as having taken the first step toward founding the system of Trial by Jury, which England, and England alone, fully matured. That method has since been adopted by every civilized country of the globe. (See the Constutional Summary in the Appendix, p. vii, S8.)

176. Origin of the Modern Trial by Jury, 1350.

In the reign of Henry's son John, the Church abolished the Ordeal (S91) throughout Christendom (1215). It then became the custom in England to choose a petty jury, acquainted with the facts, whoch confirmed or denied the accusations brought by the grand jury. When this petty jury could not agree, the decision of a majority was sometimes accepted.

The difficulty of securing justice by this method led to the custom of summoning witnesses. These witnesses appeared before the petty jury and testified for or against the party accused. In this way it became possible to obtain a unanimous verdict.

The first mention of this change occurs more than a hundred and thirty years later, in the reign of Edward III (1350); and from that time, perhaps, may be dated the true beginning of our modern method, by which the jury bring in a verdict, not from what they personally know, but from evidence sworn to by those who do.

177. The King's Last Days.

Henry's last days were full of bitterness. Ever since his memorable return from the Continent (S172), he had been obliged to hold the Queen a prisoner lest she should undermine his power (S171). His sons were discontented and rebellious. Toward the close of his reign they again plotted against him with King Philip of FRance. Henry then declared war against that country.

When peace was made, Henry, who was lying ill, asked to see a list of those who had conspired against him. At the head of it stood the name of his youngest son, John, whom he trusted. At the sight of it the old man turned his face to the wall, saying, "I have nothing left to care for; let all things go their way." Two days afterward he died of a broken heart.

178. Summary.

Henry II left his work only half done; yet that half was permanent, and its beneficent mark may be seen on the English law and the English constitution at the present time.

When he ascended the throne he found a people who had long been suffering the miseries of a protracted civil war. He established a stable government. He redressed the wrongs of his people. He punished the mutinous barons.

He compelled the Church, at least in some degree, to acknowledge the supremacy of the State. He reformed the administration of law; established methods of judicial inquiry which gradually developed into our modern Trial by Jury; and he made all men feel that a king sat on the throne who believed in a uniform system of justice and who endeavered to make it respected.

Richard I (Coeur de Lion)[1]—1189-1199

179. Accession and Character of Richard I.

Henry II was succeeded by his second son, Richard, his first having died during the civil war (1183) in which he and his brother Geoffrey had fought against Prince Richard and their father (S171). Richard was born at Oxford, but he spent his youth in France.

[1] Richard Coeur de Lion: Richard the Lion-Hearted. An old chronicler says that the King got the name from his adventure with a lion. The beast attacked him, and as the King had no weapons, he thrust his hand down his throat and "tore out his heart." This story is not without value, since it illustrates how marvelous legends grow up around the lives of remarkable men.

The only English sentence that he was ever known to speak was when he was in a raging passion. He then vented his wrath against an impertinent Frnchman, in some broken but decidedly strong expressions of his native tongue. Richard has been called "a spendid savage," having most of the faults and most of the virtues of such a savage.

The King's bravery in battle and his daring exploits gained for him the flattering surname of Coeur de Lion. He had a right to it, for he certainly possessed the heart of a lion, and he never failed to get the lion's share. He might, however, have been called, in equal truth, Richard the Absentee, since out of a nominal reign of ten years he spent but a few months in England, the remaining time being consumed in wars abroad.

180. Condition of Society.

Perhaps no better general picture of society in England during this period can be found than that presented by Sir Walter Scott's novel, "Ivanhoe." There every class appears. One sees the Saxon serf and swineherd wearing the brazen collar of his master Cedric; the pilgrim wandering from shrine to shrine, with the palm branch in his cap to show that he has visited the Holy Land; the outlaw, Robin Hood, lying in wait to strip rich churchmen and other travelers who were on their way through Sherwood Forest. He sees, too, the Norman baron in his castle torturing the aged Jew to extort his hidden gold; and the steel-clad knights, with Ivanhoe at their head, splintering lances in the tournament, presided over by Richard's brother, the traitorous Prince John (S177).

181. Richard's Coronation.

Richard was on the Continent at the time of his father's death. His first act was to liberate his mother from her long imprisonment at Winchester (S177); his next, to place her at the head of the English government until his arrival from Normandy. Unlike Henry II, Richard did not issue a charter, or pledge of good government (S160). He, however, took the usual coronation oath to defend the Church, maintain justice, make salutary laws, and abolish evil customs; such an oath might well be considered a charter in itself.

182. The Crusades (1190); how Richard raised Money.

At that period all western Europe was engaged in the series of wars known as the Crusades. The object of this long contest, which began in 1096 and ended in 1270, was to compel the Saracens or Mohammedans to give up possession of the Holy Land to the Christians (S186). Immediately after his coronation, Richard resolved to jion the King of France and the Emperor of Germany in the Third Crusade. To get money for the expedition, the King extorted loans from the Jews (S119), who were the creditors of half England and had almost complete control of the capital and commerce of every country in Europe.

The English nobles who joined Richard also borrowed largely from the same source; and then, suddenly turning on the hated lenders, they tried to extinguish the debt by extinguishing the Jews. A pretext against the unfortunate race was easily found. Riots broke out in London, York, and elsewhere, and hundreds of Israelites were brutally massacred.

Richard's next move to obtain funds was to impose a heavy tax; his next, to dispose of titles of rank and offices in both Church and State, to all who wished to buy them. Thus, to the aged and covetous bishop of Durhap he sold the earldom of Northumberland for life, saying, as he concluded the bargain, "Out of an old bishop I have made a new earl."

He sold, also, the office of chief justice to the same prelate for an additional thousand marks (S161, note 1), while the King of Scotland purchased freedom from subjection to the English King for ten thousand marks.

Last of all, Richard sold cities and town, and he also sold charters to towns. One of his courtiers remonstrated with him for his greed for gain. The King replied, "I would sell London itself could I find a purchaser rich enough to buy it."

183. The Rise of the Free Towns.

Of all these devices for raising money, that of selling charters to towns had the most important results. From the time of the Norman Conquest the large towns of England, with few exceptions, were considered part of the King's property; the smaller places generally belonged to the great barons.

The citizens of these towns were obliged to pay rent and taxes of various kinds to the King or lord who owned them. These dues were collected by an officer appointed by the King or lord (usually the sheriff), who was bound to obtain a certain sum, whatever more he could get being his own profit. For this reason it was for his interest to exact from every citizen the uttermost penny. London, as we have seen, had secured a considerable degree of liberty through the charter granted to it by William the Conqueror (S107). Every town was now anxious to obtain a similar charter.

The three great objects which the citizens of the towns sought were:

(1) To get the right of paying their taxes directly to the King. (2) To elect their own magistrates. (3) To administer justice in their own courts in accordance with laws made by themselves.

The only way to gain these privileges was to pay for them. Many of the towns were rich, and, if the King or lord needed money, they bargained with him for the favors they desired. When the agreement was made, it was drawn up in Latin and stamped with the King's seal (S154). Then the citizens took it home in triumph and locked it up as the safeguard of their liberties, or at least of some part of them.

Thus, the people of Leicester, in the next reign, purchased from the Earl of Leicester, their feudal lord, the right to decide their own disputes. For this they payed a yearly tax of threepence on every house having a gable on the main street. These concessions may seem small, but they prepared the way for greater ones.

What was still more important, these charters educated the citizens of the day in a knowledge of self-government. The tradesmen and shopkeepers of these towns did much to preserve free speech and equal justice. Richard granted a large number of these town charters, and thus unintentionally made himself a benefactor to the nation.[1]

[1] Rise of Free Towns: By 1216 the most advanced of the English towns had become to a very considerable extent self-governing. See W. Stubbs's "Constitutional History of England."

184. Failure of the Third Crusade.

The object of the Third Crusade (S182) was to drive the Mohammedans from Jerusalem. In this it failed. Richard got as near Jerusalem as the Mount of Olives. When he had climbed to the top, he was told that he could have a full view of the place; but he covered his face with his mantle, saying, "Blessed Lord, let me not see thy holy city, since I may not deliver it from the hands of thine enemies!"

185. Richard taken Prisoner; his Ransom (1194).

On his way home the King fell into the hands of the German Emperor, who held him captive. His brother John (S177), who had remained in England, plotted with Philip of France to keep Richard in prison while he got possession of the throne. It is not certainly known how the news of Richard's captivity reached England. One account relates that it was carried by Blondel, a minstrel who had accompanied the King to Palestine. He, it is said, wandered through Germany in search of his master, singing a song, which he and Richard had composed together, at every castle he came to. One day, as he was thus singing at the foot of a tower, he heard the well-known voice of the King take up the next verse in reply.

Finally, Richard regained his liberty (1194), but to do it he had to raise an enormous ransom. Every Englishman, it was said, was obliged to give a fourth of his personal property, and the priests were forced to strip the churches of their jewels and silver plate.

When the King of France heard that the ransom money had at length been raised, he wrote to John, telling him that his brother was free. "Look out for yourself," said he; "the devil has broken loose." Richard generously pardoned his treacherous brother; and when the King was killed in a war in France (1199) John gained the throne he coveted, but gained it only to disgrace it.

186. Purpose of the Crusades.

Up to the time of the Crusades, the English, when they entered upon Continental wars, had been actuated either by ambition for military glory or desire for conquest. But they undertook the Crusades from motives of religious enthusiasm.

Those who engaged in them fought for an idea. They considered themselves soldiers of the cross. Moved by this feeling, "all Christian believers seemed redy to precipitate themselves in one united body upon Asia" (S182). Thus the Crusades were "the first European event."[1] They gave men something noble to battle for, not only outside their country, but outside their own selfish interests.

[1] Guizot's "History of Civilization."

Richard, as we have seen, was the first English King who took part in them. Before that period England had stood aloof,—"a world by itself." The country was engaged in its own affairs or in its contests with France. Richard's expedition to the Holy Land brought England into the main current of history, so that it was now moved by the same feeling which animated the Continent.

187. The Results of the Crusades: Educational, Social, Political.

From a purely military point of view, the Crusades ended in disastrous failure, for they left the Mohammedans in absolute possession of the Holy Land. Although this is the twentieth century since the birth of Christ, the Mohammedans still continue in that possession. But in spite of their failure these wars brought great good to England. In many respects the civilization of the East was far in advance of the West. One result of the Crusades was to open the eyes of Europe to this fact. When Richard and his followers set out, they looked upon the Mohammedans as barbarians; before they returned, many were ready to acknowledge that the barbarians were chiefly among themselves.

At that time England had few Latin and no Greek scholars. The Saracens or Mohammedans, however, had long been familiar with the classics, and had translated them into their own tongue. Not only did England gain its first knowledge of the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle from Mohammedan teachers, but it also received from them the elements of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and astronomy.

This new knowledge gave a great impulse to education, and had a most important influence on the growth of the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, though these institutions did not become prominent until more than a century later.

Had these been the only results, they would still, perhaps, have been worth all the blood and treasure spent by the crusaders in their vain attempts to recover the permanent possession of the sepulcher of Christ; but these were by no means all. The Crusades brought about a social and political revolution. They conferred benefits and removed evils. When they began, the greater part of the inhabitants of western Europe, including England, were chained to the soil (S150). They had neither freedom, property, nor knowledge.

There were in fact but three classes, who really deserved the name of citizens and freemen; these were the churchmen (comprising the clergy, monks, and other ecclesiastics), the nobles, and the inhabitants of certain favored towns. The effect of the Crusades was to increase the number of this last class. We have seen that Richard was compelled, by his need of money, to grant charters conferring local self-government on many towns (SS182, 183). For a similar reason the great nobles often granted the same powers to towns which they controlled. The result was that their immense estates were broken up in some measure. It was from this period, says the historian Gibbon, that the common people (living in these chartered towns) began to acquire political rights, and, what is more, to defend them.

188. Summary.

We may say in closing that the central fact in Richard's reign was his embarking in the Crusades. From them, directly or indirectly, England gained two important advantages: first, a greater degree of political liberty, especially in the case of the towns; secondly, a new intellectual and educational impulse.


189. John Lackland; the King's Quarrels.

When Henry II in dividing his realm left his youngest son, John, dependent on the generousity of his brothers, he jestingly gave him the surname of "Lackland" (S171). The nickname continued to cling to him even after he had become King of England and had also secured Normandy and several adjacent provinces in France.

The reign of the new King was taken up mainly with three momentous quarrels: first, with France; next, with the Pope; lastly, with the barons. By his quarrel with France he lost Normandy and the greater part of the adjoining provinces, thus becoming in a new sense John Lackland. By his quarrel with the Pope he was humbled to the earth. By his quarrel with the barons he was forced to grant England the Great Charter.

190. Murder of Prince Arthur.

Shortly after John's accession the nobles occupying a part of the English possessions in France expressed their desire that John's nephew, Arthur, a boy of twelve, should become their ruler. John refused to grant their request.

War, ensued, and Arthur fell into the hands of his uncle John, who imprisoned him in the castle of Rouen, the capital of Normandy. A number of those who had been captured with the young prince were starved to death in the dungeons of the same castle, and not long after Arthur himself mysteriously disappeared. Shakespeare represents John as ordering the keeper of the castle to put out the lad's eyes, and then tells us that he was killed in an attempt to escape.[1] The general belief, however, was that the King murdered him.

[1] Shakespeare's "King John," Act IV, scenes i and iii.

191. John's Loss of Normandy (1204).

Philip, King of France, accused John of the crime, and ordered him as Duke of Normandy, and hence as his feudal dependant (S86), to appear at Paris for trial. John refused. The court met, declared him a traitor, and sentenced him to forfeit all his lands on the Continent.

John's late brother, Richard Coeur de Lion (S185), had built a famous stronghold on the Seine to hold Rouen and Normandy. He named it "Saucy Castle." King Philip vowed in Richard's lifetime that he would make himself master of it. "I would take it," said the French King, "were its walls of iron." "I would hold it," retorted Richard, "were its walls of butter." Richard made his word good, and kept the castle as long as he lived; but his successor, John, was of poorer and meaner stuff. He left his Norman nobles to carry on the war against Philip as best they could. At last, after much territory had been lost, the English King made an attempt to regain it. But it was too late, and "Saucy Castle" fell. Then the end speedily came. Philip seized all Normandy and followed up the victory by depriving John of his entire possessions north of the river Loire. (See map facing p. 84.)

192. Good Results of the Loss of Normandy.

Thus after a union of nearly a hundred and forty years Normandy was finally separated from England (S108). From that time the Norman nobles were compelled to choose between the island of England and the Continent for their home. Before that time the Norman's contempt for the Saxon was so great, that his most indignant exclamation was, "Do you take me for an Englishman?"

Now, however, shut in by the sea, with the people he had hitherto oppressed and despised, the Norman came to regard England as his country, and Englishmen as his countrymen. Thus the two races, who were closely akin to each other in their origin (S126), found at last that they had common interests and common enemies,[1] and henceforth they made the welfare of England their main thought.

[1] Macaulay's "England"; also W. Stubb's "Early Plantagenets," p. 136.

193. The King's Despotism.

Hitherto our sympathies have been mainly with the kings. We have watched them struggling against the lawless nobles (S173), and every gain which they have made in power we have felt was so much won for the cause of good government. But we are coming to a period when our sympathies will be the other way. Henceforth the welfare of the nation will depend largely on the resistence of these very barons to the despotic encroachments of the Crown.[2]

[2] Ransome's "Constitutional History of England."

194. Quarrel of the King with the Church (1208).

Shortly after his defeat in France (S191), John entered upon his second quarrel. Pope Innocent III had commanded a delegation of the monks of Canterbury to choose Stephen Langton archbishop in place of a person whom the King had compelled them to elect. When the news reached John, he forbade Langton's landing in England, although it was his native country.

The Pope forthwith declared the kingdom under an interdict, or suspension of religious services. For two years the churches were hung in mourning, the bells ceased to ring, the doors were shut fast. For two years the priests denied the sacraments to the living and funeral prayers for the dead. At the end of that time the Pope, by a bull of excommunication (S167), cut off the King as a withered branch from the Church. John laughed at the interdict, and met the decree of excommunication with such cruel treatment of the priests that they fled terrified from the lnd.

The Pope now took a third and final step; he deposed John and ordered Philip, King of France, to seize the English Crown. Then John, knowing that he stood alone, made a virtue of necessity. He knelt at the feet of the Pope's legate, or representative, accepted Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury, and promised to pay a yearly tax to Rome of one thousand marks (about $64,000 in modern money) for permission to keep his crown. The Pope was satisfied with the victory he had gained over his ignoble foe, and peace was made.

195. The Great Charter.

But peace in one direction did not mean peace in all. John's tyranny, brutality, and disregard of his subjects' welfare had gone too far. He had refused the Church the right to fill its offices and enjoy its revenues. He had extorted exhorbitant sums from the barons. He had violated the charters of London and other cities. He had compelled merchants to pay large sums for the privilege of carrying on their business unmolested. He had imprisoned men on false or frivolous charges, and refused to bring them to trial. He had unjustly claimed heavy sums from villeins, or farm laborers (S113), and other poor men; and when they could not pay, had seized their carts and tools, thus depriving them of their means of livelihood.

Those who had suffered these and greater wrongs were determined to have reformation, and to have it in the form of a written charter or pledge bearing the King's seal. Stephen Langton, the new archbishop, was likewise determined. He no sooner landed in England than he demanded of the King that he should swear to observe the laws of Edward the Confessor (S65), a phrase[1] in which the whole of the national liberties was summed up.

[1] Not necessarily the laws made by that King, but rather the customs and rights enjoyed by the people during his reign.

196. Preliminary Meeting at St. Albans (1213).

In the summer (1213) a council was held at St. Albans, near London, composed of representatives from all parts of the kingdom. It was the first assembly of the kind on record. It convened to consider what claims should be made on the King in the interest of the nobles, the clergy, and the people at large. A few weeks later they met again, at St. Paul's in London.

The deliberations of the assembly took shape probably under Archbishop Langton's guiding hand. He had obtained a copy of the charter granted by Henry I (S135). This was used as a model for drawing up a new one of similar character, but in every respect fuller and stronger in its provisions.

197. Battle of Bouvines; Second Meeting of the Barons (1214).

John foolishly set out for the Continent, to fight the French at the same time that the English barons were preparing to bring him to terms. He was defeated in the decisive battle of Bouvines, in the north of France, and returned to England crestfallen (1214), and in no condition to resist demands at home. Late in the autumn the barons met in the abbey church of Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk, under their leader, Robert Fitz-Walter, of London. Advancing one by one up the church to the high altar, they solemnly swore that they would oblige John to grant the new charter, or they would declare war against him.

198. The King grants the Charter, 1215.

At Easter (1215) the same barons, attended by two thousand armed knights, met the King at Oxford and made known their demands. John tried to evade giving a direct answer. Seeing that was impossible, and finding that the people of London were on the side of the barons, he yielded and requested them to name the day and place for the ratification of the charter.

"Let the day be the 15th of June, the place Runnymede,"[1] was the reply. In accordance therewith, we read at the foot of the shriveled parchment preserved in the British Museum, "Given under our the meadow called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the 15th of June, in the seventeenth year of our reign."

[1] Runnymede: about twenty miles southwest of London, on the south bank of the Thames, in Surrey.

199. Terms and Value of the Charter, 1215; England leads in Constitutional Government.

This memorable document was henceforth known as the Magna Carta,[2] or the Great Charter,—a term used to emphatically distinguish it from all previous and partial charters.

[2] Magna Carta: Carta is the spelling in the medieval Latin of this and the preceding charters. (See the Constitutional Documents in the Appendix, p. xxix.)

It stipulated that the following grievances should be redressed: First, those of the Church; secondly, those of the barons and their vassals or tenants; thirdly, those of citizens and tradesmen; fourthly, those of freemen and villeins or serfs (SS113, 150).

Such was the first agreement entered into between the King and all classes of his people. Of the sixty-three articles which constitute it, the greater part, owing to the changes of time, are now obsolete; but three possess imperishable value. These provide:

(1) That no free man shall be imprisoned or proceeded against except by his peers,[1] or the law of the land. (2) That justice shall neither be sold, denied, nor delayed. (3) That all dues from the people to the King, unless otherwise distinctly specified, shall be imposed only with the conselt of the National Council (S144).

This last provision "converted the power of taxation into the shield of liberty."[2]

[1] Peers (from Latin pares): equals; this clause secures a fair and open trial. [2] Sir J. Mackintosh's "History of England." This provision was dropped in the next reign (see W. Stubb's "Constitutional History of England"); but after the great civil war of the seventeenth century the principle it laid down was firmly reestablished.

Thus, for the first time, the interests of all classes were protected, and for the first time the English people appear in the constitutional history of the country as a united body. So highly was this charter esteemed, that in the course of the next two centuries it was confirmed no less than thirty-seven times; and the very day that Charles II entered London, after the civil wars of the seventeenth century, the House of Commons asked him to confirm it again (1660). Magna Carta was the first great step in that development of constitutional government in which England has taken the lead.

200. John's Efforts to break the Charter (1215).

But John had no sooner set his hand to this document than he determined to repudiate it. He hired bands of soldiers on the Continent to come to his aid. The charter had been obtained by armed revolt; for this reason the Pope opposed it. He suspended Archbishop Langton (S196), and threatened the barons with excommunication (S167), if they persisted in enforcing the provisions of the charter.

201. The Barons invite Louis of France to aid them (1215).

In their desperation,—for the King's hired foreign soldiers were now ravaging the country,—the barons dispatched a messenger to John's sworn enemy, Philip, King of France. They invited him to send over his son, Prince Louis, to free them from tyranny, and become ruler of the kingdom. He came with all speed, and soon made himself master of the southern counties.

202. King John's Death (1216).

John was the first sovereign who had styled himself, on his great seal, "King of England,"[1] thus formally claiming the actual ownership of the realm. He was now to find that the sovereign who has no place in his subjects' hearts has small hold of their possessions.

[1] The late Professor E. A. Freeman, in his "Norman Conquest," I, 85, note, says that though Richard Coeur de Lion had used this title in issuing charters, yet John was the first king who put this inscription on the great seal.

The rest of his ignominious reign was spent in war against the barons and Prince Louis of France. "They have placed twenty-five kings over me!" he shouted, in his fury, referring to the twenty-five leading men who had been appointed to see that the Great Charter did not become a dead letter. But the twenty-five did their duty, and the war was on.

In the midst of it John suddenly died. The old record said of him—and said rightly—that he was "a knight without truth, a king without justice, a Christian without faith."[2] The Church returned good for evil, and permitted him to be buried in front of the high altar of Worcester cathedral.

[2] The late Professor W. Stubbs, of Oxford, says, in his "Early Plantagenets," p. 152: "John ended thus a life of ignominy in which he has no rival in the whole long list of our sovereigns....He was in every way the worst of the whole list: the most vicious, the most profane, the most tyrannical, the most false, the most short-sighted, the most unscrupulous." A more recent writer (Professor Charles Oman, of the University of Oxford), says of John, "No man had a good word to say for him...; he was loathed by every one who knew him."

203. Summary.

John's reign may be regarded as a turning point in English history.

1. Through the loss of Normandy, the Norman nobility found it for their interest to make the welfare of England and of the English race one with their own. Thus the two peoples became more and more united, until finally all differences ceased.

2. In demanding and obtainign the Great Charter, the Church and the nobility made common cause with all classes of the people. That document represents the victory of the entire nation. We shall see that the next eighty years will be mainly taken up with the efforts of the nation to hold fast to what it had gained.

Henry III—1216-1272

204. Accession and Character.

John's eldest son, Henry, was crowned at the age of nine. During his long and feeble reign of fifty-six years England's motto might well have been the warning words of Scripture, "Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child!" since a child he remained to the last; for if John's heart was of millstone, Henry's was of wax.

Dante in one of his poems, written perhaps not long after Henry's death, represents him as he sees him in imagination just on the borderland of purgatory. The King is not in suffering, for as he has done no particular good, so he has done no great harm. He appears "as a man of simple life, spending his time singing psalms in a narrow valley."

That shows one side of his negative character; the other was his love of extravagance, vain display, and instability of purpose. Much of the time he drifted about like a ship without compass or rudder.

205. Reissue of the Great Charter.

Louis, the French prince who had come to England in John's reign as an armed claimant to the throne (S201), finding that both the barons and the Church preferred an English to a foreign king, now retired. During his minority Henry's guardians twice reissued the Great Charter (S199): first, with the omission of the article which reserved the power of taxation to the National Council (S199, No. 3); and, secondly, with an addition declaring that no man should lose life or limb for hunting in the royal forests (S119).

On the last occasion the Council granted the King in return a fifteenth of their movable or personal property. This tax reached a large class of people, like merchants in towns, who were not landholders. On this account it had a decided influence in making them desire to have a voice in the National Council, or Parliament, as it began to be called in this reign (1246). It thus helped, as we shall see later on, to prepare for a very important change in that body.[1]

[1] The first tax on movable or personal property appears to have been levied by Henry II, in 1188, for the support of the Crusades. Under Henry III the idea began to become general that no class should be taxed without their consent; out of this grew the representation of townspeople in Parliament.

206. Henry's Extravagance.

When Henry became of age he entered upon a course of extravagant expenditure. This, with unwise and unsuccessful wars, finally piled up debts to the amount of nearly a million of marks, or, in modern money, upwards of 13,000,000 pounds. To satisfy the clamors of his creditors, he mortgaged the Jews (S119), or rather the right of extorting money from them, to his brother Richard.

He also violated the chaters and treaties in order to compel those who benefited from them to purchase their reissue. On the birth of his first son, Prince Edward, he showed himself so eager for congratulatory gifts, that one of the nobles present at court said, "Heaven gave us this child, but the King sells him to us."

207. His Church Building.

Still, not all of the King's extravagance was money thrown away. Everywhere on the Continent magnificent churches were rising. The heavy and somber Norman architecture, with its round arches and square, massive towers, was giving place to the more graceful Gothic style, with its pointed arch and lofty, tapering spire.

The King shared the religious enthusiasm of those who built the grand cathedrals of Salisbury and Lincoln. He himself rebuilt the greater part of Westminster Abbey (S66) as it now stands. A monument so glorious ought to make us willing to overlook some faults in the builder. Yet the expense and taxation incurred in erecting the great minster must be reckoned among the causes that bred discontent and led to civil war (S212).

208. Religious Reformation; the Friars, 1221; Roger Bacon.

While this movement, which covered the land with religious edifices, was in progress, religion itself was undergoing a change. The old monastic orders had grown rich, indolent, and corrupt. The priests had well-nigh ceased to do missionary work. At this period a reform sprang up within the Church itself. On the Continent two new religious orders arose, calling themselves Friars, or Brothers. They first came to England in 1221. These Brothers bound themselves to a life of self-denial and good works. Some labored in the outskirts of towns among the poor and the sick and called them to hear the glad tidings of the teachings of Christ. From their living on charity they came to be known as "Beggin Friars."

Others, like Roger Bacon at Oxford, took an important part in education, and endeavored to rouse the sluggish monks to make efforts in the same direction. Bacon's experiments in physical science, which was then neglected and despiseed, got him the reputation of being a magician. He was driven into exile, imprisoned for many years, and deprived of books and writing materials.

But, as nothing could check the religious fervor of his mendicant brothers, so no hardship or suffering could daunt the intellectual enthusiasm of Bacon. When he emerged from captivity he issued his great book entitled an "Inquiry into the Roots of Knowledge."[1] It was especially devoted to mathematics and the sciences, and deserves the name of the encyclopedia fo the thirteenth century.

[1] Bacon designated this book by the name of "Opus Majus," or "Greater Work," to distinguish it from a later summary which he alled his "Opus Minus," or "Smaller Work."

209. The "Mad Parliament"; the Provisions of Oxford (1258).

But the prodigal expenditure and mismanagement of Henry kept on increasing. At last the burden of taxation became too great to bear. Bad harvests had caused a famine, and multitudes perished even in London. Confronted by these evils, Parliament (S205) met in the Great Hall at Westminster. Many of the barons were in complete armor. As the King entered there was an ominous clatter of swords. Henry, looking around, asked timidly, "Am I a prisoner?"

"No, sire," answered Earl Bigod (S172); "but we must have reform." The King agreed to summon a Parliament to meet at Oxford and consider what should be done. The enemies of this assembly nicknamed it the "Mad Parliament" (1258); but there was method and determination in its madness, for which the country was grateful.

With Simon de Montfort, the King's brother-in-law, at their head, they drew up a set of articles, called the Provisions of Oxford, to which Henry gave an unwilling assent. These Provisions practically took the government out of the King's inefficient hand and vested it in the control of three committees, or councils. (See Summary of Constitutional History in the Appendix, p. x, S11.)

210. Renewal of the Great Charter (1253).

Meanwhile the King had been compelled to reaffirm that Great Charter which his father had unwillingly granted at Runnymede (S198). Standing in St. Catherine's Chapel within the partially finished church of Westminster Abbey (S207), Henry, holding a lighted taper in his hand, in company with the chief men of the realm, swore to observe the provisions of the covenant.

At the close he exclaimed, as he dashed the taper on the pavement, while all present repeated the words and the action, "So go out with smoke and stench the accursed souls of those who break or pervert this charter."

There is no evidence that the King was insincere in his oath; but unfortunately his piety was that of impulse, not of principle. The compact was soon broken, and the lnd was again compelled to bear the burden of exorbitant taxes. These were extorted by violence, partly to cover Henry's own extravagance, but also to swell the coffers of the Pope, who had promised to make Henry's son, Prince Edward, ruler over Sicily.

211. Growing Feeling of Discontent.

During this time the barons were daily growing more mutinous and defiant, saying that they would rather die than be ruined by the "Romans," as they called the papal power. To a fresh demand for money Earl Bigod (S209) gave a flat refusal. "Then I will send reapers and reap your field for you," cried the King to him. "And I will send you back the heads of your reapers," retorted the angry Earl.

It was evident that the nobles would make no concession. The same spirit was abroad which, at an earlier date (1236), made the Parliament of Merton declare, when asked to alter the customs or laws of the country to suit the ordinances of the Church of Rome, "We will not change the laws of England." So now the were equally resolved not to pay the Pope money in bahalf of the King's son.

212. Civil War; Battle of Lewes (1264).

The crisis was soon reached. War broke out between the King and his brother-in-law, Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester (S209), better known by his popular name of Sir Simon the Righteous.

With fifteen thousand Londoners and a number of the barons, he met Henry, who had a stronger force, on the heights above the town of Lewes, in Sussex. (See map facing p. 436.) The result of the great battle fought there was as decisive as that fought two centuries before by William the Conqueror (S74), not many miles distant on the same coast.

213. De Montfort's Parliament; the House of Commons, 1265.

Bracton, the foremost jurist of that day, said in his comments on the dangerous state of the times, "If the King were without a bridle, —that is, the law,—his subjects ought to put a bridle on him."

Earl Simon (S209) had that "bridle" ready, or rather he saw clearly where to get it. The battle of Lewes had gone against Henry, who had fallen captive to De Montfort. By virtue of the power he now possessed, the Earl summoned a Parliament. It differed from all previous Parliaments in the fact that now, for the first time, representatives of the boroughs or principal towns (S103) were called to London to join the earls, barons, and clergy in their deliberations.

Thus, in the winter of 1265, that House of Commons, or legislative assembly of the people, as distinguished from the House of Lords, originated. After it was fully and finally established in the next reign (S217), it sat for more than three hundred years in the chapter house[1] of Westmister Abbey. It showed that at last those who had neither land nor rank, but who paid taxes on personal property only, had obtained at least temporary representation in Parliament.

[1] The building where the governing body of an abbey transacts business.

When that principle should be fully recognized, the King would have a "bridle" which he could not shake off. Henceforth Magna Carta (S199) would be no longer a dead parchment promise of reform, rolled up and hidden away, but would become a living, ever-present, effective truth. (See SS261, 262, and Constitutional Summary in the Appendix, p. x, S11.)

From this date the Great Council or Parliament of England (S144) commenced to lose its exclusive character of a single House consisting of the upper classes only. Now, it gave promise of becoming a true representative body standing for the whole nation. Thus De Montfort began—or at least tried to begin—what President Lincoln called "government of the people, by the people, for the people." But it should be distinctly understood that his work had the defects of a first attempt, and that it did not last. For, in the first place, De Montfort failed to summon all who were entitled to have seats in such a body; and secondly, he summoned only those who favored his policy. We shall see that the honor of calling the first full and free Parliament was reserved for Edward I. Thirty years later, he summoned that body, which became the final model of every such assembly which now meets, whether in the Old World or the New (S217).

214. Earl Simon's Death (1265).

But De Montfort's great effort soon met with a fatal reaction. The barons, jeolous of his power, fell away from him. Prince Edward, the King's eldest son, gathered them round the royal standard to attack and crush the man who had humiliated his father. De Montfort was at Evesham, Worcestershire (see map facing p. 436); from the top of the Bell Tower of the Abbey he saw the Prince approaching. "Commend you souls to God," he said to the faithful few who stood by him; "for our bodies are the foes'!" There he fell. He was buried in Evesham Abbey, but no trace of his grave exists.

In the north aisle of Westminster Abbey, not far from Henry III's tomb, may be seen the emblazoned arms of the brave Earl Simon. But England, so rich in effigies of her great men, so faithful, too, in her remembrance of them, has not yet set up in the vestibule of the House of Commons, among the statues of her statesmen, the image of him who took the first actual step toward founding that House in its present form.

215. Summary.

Henry III's reign lasted over half a century. During that period England, as we have seen, was not standing still. It was an age of reform. In religion the "Begging Friars" were exhorting men to better lives. In education Roger Bacon and other devoted scholars were laboring to broaden knowledge and deepen thought.

In political affairs the people now first obtained a place in Parliament. Their victory was not permanent then, but it was the precursor of the establishment of a permanent House of Commons which was to come in the next reign.

Edward I—1272-1307

216. Edward I and the Crusades.

Henry's son, Prince Edward, was in the East, fighting the battles of the Crusades (S182), at the time of his father's death. According to an account given in an old Spanish chronicle, an enemy attacked him with a poisoned dagger. His wife, Eleanor, saved his life by heroically sucking the poison from the wound (S223).

217. Edward's First "Complete or Model Parliament," 1295.

Many years after his return to England, Edward convened a Parliament, 1295, to which representatives of all classes of freemen were summoned, and from this time they regularly met (S213). Parliament henceforth consisted of two Houses.[1] This first included the Lords and Clergy. The second comprised the Commons (or representation of the common people). It thus became "a complete image of the nation," "assembled for the purposes of taxation, legislation, and united political action."[2] This body declared that all previous laws should be impartially executed, and that there should be no interference with elections.[2] By this action King Edward showed that he had the wisdom to adopt and perfect the example his father's conqueror had left him (S213). Thus it will be seen that though Earl Simon the Righteous (SS212, 213, 214) was dead, his reform went on. It was an illustration of the truth that while "God buries his workers, he carries on his work."

[1] But during that period of the Commonwealth and Protectorate (1648-1660) the House of Lords did not meet (S450) [2] Stubb's "Early Plantagenets" (Edward I). See also the Summary of Constitutional History in the Appendix, p. xi, S12. [3] The First Statute of Westminster.

218. Conquest of Wales, 1282; Birth of the First Prince of Wales.

Henry II had labored to secure unity of law for England. Edward I's aim was to bring the whole island of Britain under one ruler. On the west, Wales only half acknowledged the power of the English King, while on the north, Scotland was practically an independent sovereignty. The new King determined to begin by annexing Wales to the Crown.

He accordingly led an army thither, and after several victorious battles, considered that he had gained his end. To make sure of his new possessions, he erected along the coast the magnificent castles of Conway, Beaumaris, Harlech, and Carnarvon, all of which he garrisoned with bodies of troops ready to check revolt.

In the last-named stronghold, tradition still points out a little dark chamber in the Eagle Tower, more like a state-prison cell than a royla apartment, where Edward's second son was born (1284). Years afterward the King created him the first Prince of Wales (1301). The Welsh had vowed that they would never accept an Englishman as King; but the young Prince was a native of the soil, and certainly in his cradle, at least, spoke as good Welsh as their own children of the same age. No objection, therefore, could be made to him; by this happy compromise, it is said, Wales became a principality joined to the English Crown.[4]

[4] Wales was not wholly incorporated with England until more than two centuries later, namely in 1536, in the reign of Henry VIII. It then obtained local self-government and representation in Parliament.

219. Conquest of Scotland (1290-1296); the Stone of Scone.

An opportunity now presented itself for Edward to assert his power in Scotland. Two claimants, both of Norman descent, had come forward demanding the crown.[1] One was John Baliol; the other, Robert Bruce, an ancestor of the famous Scottish King and general of that name, who will come prominently forward in the next reign. He decided in Baliol's favor, but insisted, before doing so, that the latter should acknowledge the overlordship of England, as the King of Scotland had done to William I.

[1] Scotland: At the time of the Roman conquest of Britain, Scotland was inhabited by a Celtic race nearly akin to the primitive Irish, and more distantly so to the Britons. In time, the Saxons from the Continent invaded the country, and settled on the lowlands of the east, driving back the Celts to the western highlands. Later, many English emigrated to Scotland, especially at the time of the Norman Conquest, where they found a hearty welcome. In 1072 William the Conqueror compelled the Scottish King to acknowledge him as Overlord, and eventually so many Norman nobles established themselves in Scotland that they constituted the chief landed aristocracy of the country. The modern Scottish nation, though it keeps its Celtic name (Scotland), is made up in great measure of inhabitants of English descent, the pure Scotch being confined mostly to the Highlands, and ranking in population only as about one to three of the former.

Baliol made a virtue of necessity, and agreed to the terms; but shortly after formed a secret alliance with France against Edward, which was renewed from time to time, and kept up between the two countries for three hundred years. It is the key to most of the wars in which England was involved during that period. Having made this treaty, Baliol now openly renounced his allegiance to the English King. Edward at once organized a force, attacked Baliol, and at the battle of Dunbar (1296) compelled the Scottish nobleman to acknowledge him as ruler.

At the Abbey of Scone, near Perth, the English seized the famous "Stone of Destiny," the palladium of Scotland, on which her Kings were crowned. (See map facing p. 120.) Carrying the trophy to Westminster Abbey, Edward enclosed it in that ancient coronation chair which has been used by every sovereign since, from his son's accession (1307) down to the present day.

220. Confirmation of the Charters, 1297.

Edward next prepared to attack France. In great need of money, he demanded a large sum from the clergy, and seized a quantity of wool in the hands of the merchants. The barons, alarmed at these arbitrary measures, insisted on the King's confirming all previous charters of liberties, including the Great Charter (SS135, 160, 199). This confirmation expressly forbade that the Crown should take the people's money or goods except by the consent of Parliament. Thus out of the war England gained the one thing it needed to give the finishing touch to the building up of Parliamentary power (SS213, 217); namely, a solemn acknowledgement by the King that the nation alone had the right to levy taxes.[1] (See Summary of Constitutional History in the Appendix, p. xi, S12.)

[1] Professor Stubbs says in his works (i.e. "Constitutional History of England," and "Select Charters"), that the Confirmation of the Charters "established the principle that for all taxation, direct and indirect, the consent of the nation must be asked, and made it clear that all transgressions of that principle, whether within the latter of the law or beyond it, were evasions of the spirit of the Constitution." See also J. Rowley's "Rise of the English People."

221. Revolt and Death of Wallace (1303).

A new revolt now broke out in Scotland (S219). The patriot, William Wallace, rose and led his countrymen against the English,—led them with that impetuous valor which breathes in Burns's lines:

"Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled."

Fate, however, was against him. After eight years of desperate fighting, the valiant soldier was captured, executed on Tower Hill in London as a traitor, and his head, crowned in mockery with a wreath of laurel, was set on a pike on London Bridge.

But though the hero who perished on the scaffold could not prevent his country from becoming one day a part of England, he did hinder its becoming so on unfair and tyrannical terms. "Scotland," says Carlyle, "is not Ireland. No; because brave men arose there, and said, 'Behold, ye must not tread us down like slaves,—and ye shall not,—and ye cannot!'" But Ireland failed, not for any lack of brave men, but for lack of unity among them.

222. Expulsion of the Jews, 1290.

The darkest stain on Edward's reign was his treatment of the Jews (S119). Up to this period that unfortunate race had been protected by the Kings of England as men protect the cattle which they fatten for slaughter. So long as they accumulated money, and so long as the sovereign could extort from them whatever portion of their accumulations he saw fit to demand, they were worth guarding. A time had now come when the populace clamored for their expulsion from the island, on the ground that their usury and rapacity was ruining the country.

Edward yielded to the clamor, and first stripping the Jews of their possessions, he prepared to drive them into exile. It is said that even their books were taken from them and given to the libraries of Oxford. Thus pillaged, they were forced to leave the realm,—a miserable procession, numbering some sixteen thousand. Many perished on the way, and so few ventured to return that for three centuries and a half, until Cromwell came to power, they disappear from English history (S458).

223. Death of Queen Eleanor.

Shortly after this event, Queen Eleanor died (S216). The King showed the devoted love he bore her in the beautiful crosses of carved stone that he raised to her memory, three of which still stand.[1] These were erected at the places where her coffin was set down, in its transit from Grantham, in Lincolnshire, where she died, to the little village of Charing (now Charing Cross, the geographical center of London). This was the last station before her body reached its final resting place, in that abbey at Westminster which holds such wealth of historic dust. Around Queen Eleanor's tomb wax lights were kept constantly burning, until the Protestant Reformation extinguished them, nearly three hundred years later.

[1] Originally there were thirteen of these crosses. Of these, three remain: namely, at Northampton, at Geddington, near by, and at Waltham, about twelve miles northeast of London.

224. Edward's Reforms; Statute of Winchester (1285).

The condition of England when Edward came to the throne was far from settled. The country was overrun with marauders. To suppress these, the Statute of Winchester made the inhabitants of every district punishable by fines for crimes committed within their limits. Every walled town had to close its gates at sunset, and no stranger could be admitted during the night unless some citizen would be responsible for him.

In addition, both sides of the main roads were cleared of bushes in order that desperadoes might not lie in wait for travelers. Furthermore, every citizen was required to keep arms and armor, according to his condition in life, and to join in the pursuit and arrest of criminals.

225. Land Legislation, 1285, 1290.

Two very important statutes were passed during this reign, respecting the free sale or transfer of land.[1]

[1] These laws may be regarded as the foundation of the English system of landed property; they completed the feudal claim to the soil established by William the Conqueror. They are known as the Second Statute of Westminster (De Donis, or Entail, 1285) and the Third Statute of Westminster (Quia Emptores, 1290). See S264 and Summary of Constitutional History in the Appendix, p. xi, S11.

The effect of these statutes was to confine the great estates to the hands of their owners and direct descendants, or, when land changed hands, to keep alive the claims of the great lords or the Crown upon it. These laws rendered it difficult for landholders to evade their feudal duties to the King (S150) by the sale or subletting of estates. Hence, while they often built up the strength of the great families, they also operated to increase the power of the Crown at the very time when the growing influence of Parliament and the people was beginning to act as a check upon the royal authority.

226. Legislation respecting the Church; Statute of Mortmain, 1279.

A third enactment checked the undue increase of Church property. Through gifts and bequests the clergy had become owners of a very large part of the most fertile soil of the realm. No farms, herds of cattle, or flocks of sheep compared with theirs. These lands were said to be in mortmain, or "dead hands"; since the Church, being a corporation, never let go its hold, but kept its property with the tenacity of a dead man's grasp.

The clergy constantly strove to get these Church lands exempted from furnishing soldiers, or paying taxes to the King (S136). Instead of men or money they offered prayers. Practically, the Crown succeeded from time to time in compelling them to do considerably more than this, but seldom without a violent struggle, as in the case of Henry II and Becket (S165).

On account of these exemptions it had become the practice with many persons who wished to escape bearing their just share of the support of the King, to give their lands to the Church, and then receive them again as tenants of some abbot or bishop. In this way they evaded their military and pecuniary obligations to the Crown. To put a stop to this practice, and so make all landed proprietors do their part, the Statute of Mortmain was passed, 1279. It required the donor of an estate to the Church to obtain a royal license, which, it is perhaps needless to say, was not readily granted.[1]

[1] See p. 76, note 1, on Clergy; and see Summary of Constitutional History in the Appendix, p. xi, S11.

227. Death of Edward I.

Edward died while endeavoring to subdue a revolt in Scotland, in which Robert Bruce, grandson of the first of that name (S219), had seized the throne. His last request was that his son Edward should continue the war. "Carry my bones before you on your march," said the dying King, "for the rebels will not endure the sight of me, alive or dead!"

Not far from the beautiful effigy of Queen Eleanor in Westminster Abey (S223), "her husband rests in a severely simple tomb. Pass it not by for its simplicity; few tombs hold nobler dust."[2]

[2] Goldwin Smith's "History of the United Kingdom."

228. Summary.

During Edward I's reign the following changes took place:

1. Wales and Scotland were conquered, and the first remained permanently a part of the English kingdom. 2. The landed proprietors of the whole country were made more directly responsible to the Crown. 3. The excessive growth of Church property was checked. 4. Laws for the better suppression of acts of violence were enacted and rigorously enforced. 5. The Great Charter, with additional articles for the protection of the people, was confirmed by the King, and the power of taxation expressly acknowledged to reside in Parliament only. 6. Parliament, a legislative body now representing all classes of the nation, was permanently organized, and for the first time regularly and frequently summoned by the King.[1]

[1] It will be remembered that De Montfort's Parliament in 1265 (S213) was not regularly and legally summoned, since the King (Henry III) was at that time a captive. The first Parliament (consisting of a House of Commons and House of Lords, including the upper Clergy), convened by the Crown, was that called by Edward I in 1295 (S217).

Edward II—1307-1327

229. Accession and Character.

The son to whom Edward I left his power was in every respect his opposite. The old definition of the word "king" was "the man who CAN," or the able man. The modern explanation usually makes him "the chief or head of a people." Edward II would satisfy neither of these definitions. He lacked all disposition to do anything himself; he equally lacked power to incite others to do. By nature he was a jester, trifler, and waster of time.

Being such, it is hardly necessary to say that he did not push the war with Scotland. Robert Bruce (S227) did not expect that he would; that valiant fighter, indeed, held the new English sovereign in utter contempt, saying that he feared the dead father, Edward I, much more than the living son.

230. Piers Gaveston; the Lords Ordainers; Articles of Reform.

During his first five years of his reign, Edward II did little more than lavish wealth and honors on his chief favorite and adviser, Piers Gaveston, a Frenchman who had been his companion and playfellow from childhood. While Edward I was living, Parliament had with his sanction banished Gaveston from the kingdom, as a man of corrupt practices; but Edward II was no sooner crowned than he recalled him, and gave him the government of the realm during his absence in France, on the occasion of his marriage.

On Edward's return, the barons protested against the monopoly of privileges by a foreigner, and the King was obliged to consent to Gaveston's banishment. He soon came back, however, and matters went on from bad to worse. Finally, the indignation of the nobles rose to such a pitch that at a council held at Westminster the government was virtually taken from the King's hands and vested in a body of barons and bishops.

The head of this committee was the King's cousin, the Earl of Lancaster; and from the Ordinances or Articles of Reform which the committee drew up for the management of affairs they got the name of the Lords Ordainers. Gaveston was now sent out of the country for a third time; but the King persuaded him to return, and gave him the office of Secretary of State. This last insult—for so the Lords Ordainers regareded it—was too much for the nobility to bear.

They resolved to exile the hated favorite once more, but this time to send him to that "undiscovered country" from which "no traveler returns." Edward, taking alarm, placed Gaveston in Scarborough Castle, on the coast of Yorkshire, thinking that he would be safe there. The barons besieged the castle, starved Gaveston into surrender, and beheaded him forthwith. Thus ended the first favorite.

231. Scotland regains its Independence; Bannockburn, 1314.

Seeing Edward's lack of manly fiber, Robert Bruce (S229), who had been crowned King of the Scots, determined to make himself ruler in fact as well as in name. He had suffered many defeats; he had wandered a fugitive in forests and glens; he had been hunted with bloodhounds like a wild beast; but he had never lost courage or hope. On the field of Bannockburn, northwest of Edinburgh (1314), he once again met the English, and in a bloody and decisive battle drove them back like frightened sheep into their own country. (See map facing p. 120.) By this victory, Bruce reestablished the independence of Scotland,—an independence which continued until the rival kingdoms were peacefully united under one crown, by the accession of the Scottish King, James, to the English throne (1603).

232. The New Favorites; the King made Prisoner (1314-1326).

For the next seven years the Earl of Lancaster (S23) had his own way in England. During this time Edward, whose weak nature needed some one to lean on, had got two new favorites,—Hugh Despenser and his son. They were men of more character than Gaveston (S230), but as they cared chiefly for their own interests, they incurred the hatred of the baronage.

The King's wife, Isabelle of France, now turned against him. She had formerly acted as a peacemaker, but from this time she did all in her power to make trouble. Roger Mortimer, one of the leaders of the barons, was the sworn enemy of the Despensers. The Queen had formed a guilty attachment for him. The reign of Mortimer and Isabelle was "a reign of terror." Together they plotted the ruin of Edward and his favorites. They raised a force, seized and executed the Despensers (1326), and then took the King prisoner.

233. Deposition and Murder of the King (1327).

Having locked up Edward in Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, the barons now resolved ot remove him from the throne. Parliament drew up articles of deposition against him, and appointed commissioners to demand his resignation of the throne.

When they went to the castle, Edward appeared before them clad in deep mourning. Presently he sank fainting to the floor. On his recovery he burst into a fit of weeping. But, checking himself, he thanked Parliament through the commissioners for having chosen his eldest son Edward, a boy of fourteen, to rule over the nation.

Sir William Trussel then stepped forward and said: "Unto thee, O King, I, William Trussel, in the name of all men of this land of England and Speaker of this Parliament, renounce to you, Edward, the homage [oath of allegiance] that was made to you some time; and from this time forth I defy thee and deprive thee of all royal power, and I shall never be attendant on thee as King from this time."

Then Sir Thomas Blount, steward of the King's household; advanced, broke his staff of office before the King's face, and proclaimed the royal household dissolved.

Edward was soon after committed to Berkeley Castle,[1] in Gloucestershire. There, by the order of Mortimer, with the connivance of Queen Isabelle, the "she-wolf of France," who acted as his companion in iniquity (S232), the King was secretly and horribly murdered.

[1] Berkeley Castle is considered one of the finest examples of feudal architecture now remaining in England. Over the stately structure still floats the standard borne in the Crusades by an ancestor of the present Lord Berkeley.

234. Summary.

The lesson of Edward II's career is found in its culmination. Other sovereigns had been guilty of misgovernment, others had put unworthy and grasping favorites in power, but he was the first King whom Parliament had deposed.

By that act it became evident that great as was the power of the King, there had now come into existence a greater still, which could not only make but unmake him who sat on the throne.

Edward III—1327-1377

235. Edward's Accession; Execution of Mortimer.

Edward III, son of Edward II, was crowned at fourteen. Until he became of age, the government was nominally in the hands of a council, but really in the control of Queen Isabelle and her "gentle Mortimer," the two murderers of his father (S233).

Early in his reign Edward attempted to reconquer Scotland (S219), but failing in his efforts, made a peace acknowledging the independence of that country. At home, however, he now gained a victory which compensated him for his disappointment in not subduing the Scots.

Mortimer was staying with Queen Isabelle at Nottingham Castle. Edward obtained entrance by a secret passage, carried him off captive, and soon after brought him to the gallows. He next seized his mother, the Queen, and kept her in confinement for the rest of her life in Castle Rising, Norfolk.

236. The Rise of English Commerce; Wool Manufacture, 1336.

The reign of Edward III is directly connected with the rise of a flourishing commerce with the Continent. In the early ages of its history England was almost wholly an agricultural country. At length the farmers in the eastern counties began to turn their attention to wool growing. They exported the fleeces, which were considered the finest in the world, to the Flemish cities of Ghent and Bruges. There they were woven into cloth and returned to be sold in the English market; for, as an old writer quaintly remarks, "The English people at that time knew no more what to do with the wool than the sheep on whose backs it grew."[1]

[1] Thomas Fuller. This remark applies to the production of fine woolens only. The English had long manufactured common grades of woolen cloth to some extent.

Edward's wife, Queen Philippa, was a native of a French province adjoining Flanders, which was also engaged in the production of cloth. (See map facing p. 128.) She used her influence in behalf of the establishment of woolen factories at Norwich, and other towns in the east of England, in 1336. Skilled Flemish workmen were induced to come over, and by their help England successfully laid the foundation of one of her greatest and most lucrative industries.

From that time wool was considered a chief source of the national wealth. Later, that the fact might be kept constantly in mind, a square crimson bag filled with it—the "Woolsack"—became, and still continues to be, the seat of the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords.

237. The Beginning of the Hundred Years' War, 1338.

Indirectly, this trade between England and Flanders helped to bring on a war of such duration that it received the name of the Hundred Years' War.

Flanders was at that time a dependency of France (see map facing p. 128), but its great commercial towns were rapidly rising in power, and were restive and rebellious under the exactions and extortion of their feudal master, Count Louis. Their business interests bound them strongly to England; and they were anxious to form an alliance with Edward against Philip VI of France, who was determined to bring the Flemish cities into absolute subjection.

Philip was by no means unwilling to begin hostilities with England. He had long looked with a greedy eye on the tract of country south of the Loire,[2] which remained in possession of the English kings, and only wanted a pretext for annexing. Through his alliance with Scotland, he threatened to attack Edward's kingdom on the north. Again, Philip's war vessels had been seizing English ships laden with wool, so that intercourse with Flanders was maintained with difficulty and peril.

[2] Names Aquitaine (with the exception of Poitou). At a later period the province got the name of Guienne, which was a part of it. (See map facing p. 128.)

Edward remonstrated in vain against these outrages. At length, having concluded an alliance with Ghent, the chief Flemish city, he boldly claimed the crown of France as his lawful right,[1] and followed the demand with a declaration of war. Edward based his claim on the fact that through his mother Isabelle he was nephew to the late French King, Charles IV, whereas the reigning monarch was only cousin of that monarch. To this the French replied that since their law excluded women from the throne, Edward's claim was worthless, because he could not inherit the crown of France from one who could not herself have worn it.

[1] Claim of Edward III to the French Crown

Philip III (of France)* (1270-1285) H =============H H Philip IV Charles, Count of (1285-1314) Valois, d. 1325 H H ========================== Philip VI H H H (of Valois) Louis X Philip V Charles IV Isabelle (1328-1350) (1314-1316) (1316-1322) (1322-1328) m. Edward II H H of England H John I John II (15 No.-19 Nov. 1316) Edward III (1350-1364) of England, 1327

*The heavy lines indicate the direct succession.

238. Battle of Cr'ecy; the "Black Prince," 1346.

For the next eight years, fighting between the two countries was going on pretty constantly on both land and sea, but without decisive results. Edward was pressed for money and had to resort to all sorts of expedients to get it, even to pawning his own and the Queen's crown, to raise enough to pay his troops. At last he succeeded in equipping a strong force, and with his son, Prince Edward, a lad of fifteen, invaded Normandy.

His plan seems to have been to attack the French army in the south of France; but after landing he changed his mind, and determined to ravage Normandy, and then march north to meet his Flemish allies, who were advancing to join him. King Edward halted on a little rise of ground not far from Cr'ecy (or Cressy), near the coast, on the way to Calais. There a desperate battle took place. (See map facing p. 128.)

The French had the larger force, but Edward the better position. Philip's army included a number of hired Genoese crossbowmen, on whom he placed great dependence; but a thunderstorm had wet their bowstrings, which rendered them nearly useless, and, as they advanced toward the English, the afternoon sun shone so brightly in their eyes that they could not take accurate aim. The English archers, on the other hand, had kept their long bows in their cases, so that the strings were dry and ready for action (S270).

In the midst of the fight, the Earl of Warwick, who was hard pressed by the enemy, became alarmed for the safety of young King Edward. He sent to the King, asking reenforcements.

"Is my son killed?" asked the King. "No, sire, please God!" "Is he wounded?" "No, sire." "Is he thrown to the ground?" "No, sire; but he is in great danger." "Then," said the King, "I shall send no aid. Let the boy win his spurs[1]; for I wish, if God so order it, that the honor of victory shall be his." The father's wish was gratified. From that time the "Black Prince," as the French called Prince Edward, from the color of his armor, became a name renowned throughout Europe.

[1] Spurs were the especial badge of knighthood. It was expected of every one who attained that honor that he should do some deed of valor; this was called "winning his spurs."

The battle, however, was gained, not by his bravery, or that of the nobles who supported him, but by the sturdy English yeomen armed with their long bows. With these weapons they shot their keen white arrows so thick and fast, and with such deadly aim, that a writer who was present on the field compared them to a shower of snow. It was that fatal snowstorm which won the day.[2] We shall see presently (S240) that the great importance of this victory to the English turned on the fact that by it King Edward was able to move on Calais and secure possession of that port.

[2] The English yeomen, or country people, excelled in the use of the long bow. They probably learned its value from their Norman conquerors, who empoyed it with great effect at the battle of Hastings. Writing at a much later period, Bishop Latimer said: "In my tyme my poore father was as diligent to teach me to shote as to learne anye other thynge....He taught me how to drawe, how to laye my bodye in my bowe, and not to drawe wyth strength of armes as other nacions do, but wyth strength of the bodye. I had bowes broughte me accordyng to my age and strength; as I encreased in them, so my bowes were made bigger, and bigger, for men shal neuer shot well, excepte they be broughte up in it." The advantage of this weapon over the steel crossbow (used by the Genoese) lay in the fact that it could be discharged much more rapidly, the latter being a cumbrous affair, which had to be wound up with a crank for each shot. Hence the English long bow was to that age what the revolver is to ours. It sent an arrow with such force that only the best armor could withstand it. The French peasantry at that period had no skill with this weapon, and about the only part they took in a battle was to stab horses and despatch wounded men. Scott, in the Archery Contest in "Ivanhoe" (Chapter XIII), has given an excellent picture of the English bowman.

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