Young Folks' History of England
by Charlotte M. Yonge
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Richard seems to have really wished to take away some of the laws that were so hard upon them, but his lords would not let him, and he had as yet very little power—being only a boy—and by the time he grew up his head was full of vanity and folly. He was very handsome, and he cared more for fine clothes and amusements than for business; and his youngest uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, did all he could to keep him back, and hinder him from taking his affairs into his own hands. Not till he was twenty-four did Richard begin to govern for himself; and then the Duke of Gloucester was always grumbling and setting the people to grumble, because the king chose to have peace with France. Duke Thomas used to lament over the glories of the battles of Edward III., and tell the people they had taxes to pay to keep the king in ermine robes, and rings, and jewels, and to let him give feasts and tilting matches—when the knights, in beautiful, gorgeous armor, rode against one another in sham fight, and the king and ladies looked on and gave the prize.

Now, Richard knew very well that all this did not cost half so much as his grandfather's wars, and he said it did not signify to the people what he wore, or how he amused himself, as long as he did not tax them and take their lambs and sheaves to pay for it. But the people would not believe him, and Gloucester was always stirring them up against him, and interfering with him in council. At last, Richard went as if on a visit to his uncle at Pleshy Castle; and there, in his own presence, caused him to be seized and sent off to Calais. In a few days' time Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, was dead; and to this day nobody knows whether his grief and rage brought on a fit, or if he was put to death. It is certain, at least, that Richard's other two uncles do not seem to have treated the king as if he had been to blame. The elder of these uncles, the Duke of Lancaster, was called John of Gaunt—because he had been born a Ghent, a town in Flanders. He was becoming an old man, and only tried to help the king and keep things quiet; but Henry, his eldest son, was a fine high-spirited young man—a favorite with everybody, and was always putting himself forward—and the king was very much afraid of him.

One day, when Parliament met, the king stood up, and commanded Henry of Lancaster to tell all those present what the Duke of Norfolk had said when they were riding together. Henry gave in a written paper, saying that the duke had told him that they should all be ruined, like the Duke of Gloucester, and that the king would find some way to destroy them. Norfolk angrily sprang up, and declared he had said no such thing. In those days, when no one could tell which spoke the truth, the two parties often would offer to fight, and it was believed that God would show the right, by giving the victory to the sincere one. So Henry and Norfolk were to fight; but just as they were mounted on their horses, with their lances in their hands, the king threw down his staff before them, stopped the combat, and sentenced Norfolk to be banished from England for life, and Henry for ten years.

Not long after Henry had gone, his old father—John of Gaunt—died, and the king kept all his great dukedom of Lancaster. Henry would not bear this, and knew that many people at home thought it very unfair; so he came to England, and as soon as he landed at Ravenspur in Yorkshire, people flocked to him so eagerly, that he began to think he could do more than make himself duke of Lancaster. King Richard was in Ireland, where his cousin, the governor—Roger Mortimer—had been killed by the wild Irish. He came home in haste on hearing of Henry's arrival, but everybody turned against him: and the Earl of Northumberland, whom he had chiefly trusted, made him prisoner and carried him to Henry. He was taken to London, and there set before Parliament, to confess that he had ruled so ill that he was unworthy to reign, and gave up the crown to his dear cousin Henry of Lancaster, in the year 1399.

Then he was sent away to Pontefract Castle, and what happened to him there nobody knows, but he never came out of it alive.


HENRY IV. A.D. 1399—1413.

The English people had often chosen their king out of the royal family in old times, but from John to Richard II., he had always been the son and heir of the last king. Now, though poor Richard had no child, Henry of Lancaster was not the next of kin to him, for Lionel, Duke of Clarence, had come between the Black Prince and John of Gaunt; and his great grandson, Edmund Mortimer, was thought by many to have a better right to be king than Henry. Besides, people did not know whether Richard was alive, and they thought him hardly used, and wanted to set him free. So Henry had a very uneasy time. Everyone had been fond of him when he was a bright, friendly, free-spoken noble, and he thought that he would be a good king and much loved; but he had gained the crown in an evil way, and it never gave him any peace or joy. The Welsh, who always had loved Richard, took up arms for him, and the Earl of Northumberland, who had betrayed Richard, expected a great deal too much from Henry. The earl had a brave son—Henry Percy—who was so fiery and eager that he was commonly called Hotspur. He was sent to fight with the Welsh: and with the king's son, Henry, Prince of Wales—a brave boy of fifteen or sixteen—under his charge, to teach him the art of war; and they used to climb the mountains and sleep in tents together as good friends.

But the Scots made an attack on England. Henry Percy went north to fight with them, and beat them in a great battle, making many prisoners. The King sent to ask to have the prisoners sent to London, and this made the proud Percy so angry that he gave up the cause of King Henry, and went off to Wales, taking his prisoners with him; and there—being by this time nearly sure that poor Richard must be dead —he joined the Welsh in choosing, as the only right king of England, young Edmund Mortimer. Henry IV. and his sons gathered an army easily —for the Welsh were so savage and cruel, that the English were sure to fight against them if they broke into England. The battle was fought near Shrewsbury. It was a very fierce one, and in it Hotspur was killed, the Welsh put to flight, and the Prince of Wales fought so well that everyone saw he was likely to be a brave, warlike king, like Edward I. or Edward III.

The troubles were not over, however, for the Earl of Northumberland himself, and Archbishop Scrope of York, took up arms against the king; but they were put down without a battle. The Earl fled and hid himself, but the archbishop was taken and beheaded—the first bishop whom a king of England had ever put to death. The Welsh went on plundering and doing harm, and Prince Henry had to be constantly on the watch against them; and, in fact, there never was a reign so full of plots and conspiracies. The king never knew whom to trust: one friend after another turned against him, and he became soured and wretched: he was worn out with disappointment and guarding against everyone, and at last he grew even suspicious of his brave son Henry, because he was so bright and bold, and was so much loved. The prince was ordered home from Wales, and obliged to live at Windsor, with nothing to do, while his youngest brothers were put before him and trusted by their father—one of them even sent to command the army in France. But happily the four brothers—Henry, Thomas, John and Humfrey—all loved each other so well that nothing could make them jealous or at enmity with one another. At Windsor, too, the king kept young Edmund Mortimer—whom the Welsh had tried to make king,— and also the young English princes, and they all led a happy life together.

There are stories told of Henry—Prince Hal, as he was called—leading a wild, merry life, as a sort of madcap; playing at being a robber, and breaking into the wagons that were bringing treasure for his father, and then giving the money back again. Also there is a story that, when one of his friends was taken before the Lord Chief Justice, he went and ordered him to be released and that when the justice refused he drew his sword, upon which the justice sent him to prison; and he went quietly, knowing it was right. The king is said to have declared himself happy to have a judge who maintained the law so well, and a son who would submit to it; but there does not seem to be good reason for believing the story; and it seems clear that young Henry, if he was full of fun and frolic, took care never to do anything really wrong.

The king was an old man before his time. He was always ill, and often had fits, and one of these came on when he was in Westminster Abbey. He was taken to the room called the Jerusalem chamber, and Henry watched him there. Another of the stories is that the king lay as if he were dead, and the prince took the crown that was by his side and carried it away. When the king revived, Henry brought it back, with many excuses. "Ah, fair son," said the king, "what right have you to the crown? you know your father had none."

"Sir," said Henry, "with your sword you took it, and with my sword I will keep it."

"May God have mercy on my soul," said the king.

Another story tells show the prince, feeling that his father doubted his loyalty, presented himself one day in disordered attire before the king, and kneeling, offered him a dagger, and begged his father to take his life, if he could no longer trust and love him.

We cannot be quite certain about the truth of these conversations, for many people will write down stories they have heard, without making sure of them. One thing we are certain of which Henry told his son, which seems less like repentance. It was that, unless he made war in France, his lords would never let him be quiet on his throne in England; and this young Henry was quite ready to believe. There had never been a real peace between France and England since Edward III. had begun the war—only truces, which are short rests in the middle of a great war—and the English were eager to begin again; for people seldom thought then of the misery that comes of a great war, but only of the honor and glory that were to be gained, of making prisoners and getting ransoms from them.

So Henry IV. died, after having made his own life miserable by taking the crown unjustly, and, as you will see, leaving a great deal or harm still to come to the whole country, as well as to France.

He died in the year 1399. His family is called the House of Lancaster, because his father had been Duke of Lancaster. You will be amused to hear that Richard Whittington really lived in his time. I cannot answer for his cat, but he was really Lord Mayor of London, and supplied the wardrobe of King Henry's daughter, when she married the King of Denmark.


HENRY V., OF MONMOUTH. A.D. 1413—1423.

The young King Henry was full of high, good thoughts. He was devout in going to church, tried to make good Bishops, gave freely to the poor, and was so kindly, and hearty, and merry in all his words and ways, that everyone loved him. Still, he thought it was his duty to go and make war in France. He had been taught to believe the kingdom belonged to him, and it was in so wretched a state that he thought he could do it good. The poor king, Charles VI., was mad, and had a wicked wife besides; and his sons, and uncles, and cousins were always fighting, till the streets of Paris were often red with blood, and the whole country was miserable. Henry hoped to set all in order for them, and gathering an army together, crossed to Normandy. He called on the people to own him as their true king, and never let any harm be done to them, for he hung any soldier who was caught stealing, or misusing anyone. He took the town of Harfleur, on the coast of Normandy, but not till after a long siege, when his camp was in so wet a place that there was much illness among his men. The store of food was nearly used up, and he was obliged to march his troops across to Calais, which you know belonged to England, to get some more. But on the way the French army came up to meet him—a very grand, splendid-looking army, commanded by the king's eldest son the dauphin. Just as the English kings' eldest son was always Prince of Wales, the French kings' eldest son was always called Dauphin of Vienne, because Vienne, the country that belonged to him, had a dolphin on its shield. The French army was very large—quite twice the number of the English— but, though Henry's men were weary and half-starved, and many of them sick, they were not afraid, but believed their king when he told them that there were enough Frenchmen to kill, enough to run away, enough to make prisoners. At night, however, the English had solemn prayers, and made themselves ready, and the king walked from tent to tent to see that each man was in his place; while, on the other hand, the French were feasting and revelling, and settling what they would do the English when they had made them prisoners. They were close to a little village which the English called Agincourt, and, though that is not quite its right name, it is what we have called the battle ever since. The French, owing to the quarrelsome state of the country, had no order or obedience among them. Nobody would obey any other; and when their own archers were in the way, the horsemen began cutting them down as if they were the enemy. Some fought bravely, but it was of little use; and by night all the French were routed, and King Henry's banner waving in victory over the field. He went back to England in great glory, and all the aldermen of London came out to meet him in red gowns and gold chains, and among them was Sir Richard Whittington, the great silk mercer.

Henry was so modest that he would not allow the helmet he had worn at Agincourt, all knocked about with terrible blows, to be carried before him when he rode into London, and he went straight to church, to give thanks to God for his victory. He soon went back to France, and went on conquering it till the queen came to an agreement with him that he should marry his daughter Catherine, and that, though poor, crazy Charles VI. should reign to the end of his life, when he died Henry and Catherine should be king and queen of France. So Henry and Catherine were married, and he took her home to England with great joy and pomp, leaving his brother Thomas, Duke of Clarence to take care of his army in France. For, of course, though the queen had made this treaty for her mad husband, most brave, honest Frenchmen could not but feel it a wicked and unfair thing to give the kingdom away from her son, the Dauphin Charles. He was not a good man, and had consented to the murder of his cousin, the Duke of Burgundy, and this had turned some against him; but still he was badly treated, and the bravest Frenchmen could not bear to see their country given up to the English. So, though he took no trouble to fight for himself, they fought for him, and got some Scots to help them; and by and by news came to Henry that his army had been beaten, and his brother killed.

He came back again in haste to France, and his presence made everything go well again; but all the winter he was besieging the town of Meaux, where there was a very cruel robber, who made all the roads to Paris unsafe, and by the time he had taken it his health was much injured. His queen came to him, and they kept a very grand court at Paris, at Whitsuntide; but soon after, when Henry set out to join his army, he found himself so ill and weak that he was obliged to turn back to the Castle of Vincennes, where he grew much worse. He called for all his friends, and begged them to be faithful to his little baby son, whom he had never even seen; and he spoke especially to his brother John, Duke of Bedford, to whom he left the charge of all he had gained. He had tried to be a good man, and though his attack on France was really wrong, and caused great misery, he had meant to do right. So he was not afraid to face death, and he died when only thirty-four years old, while he was listening to the 51st Psalm. Everybody grieved for him— even the French—and nobody had ever been so good and dutiful to poor old King Charles, who sat in a corner lamenting for his good son Henry, and wasting away till he died, only three weeks later, so that he was buried the same day, at St. Denys Abbey, near Paris, as Henry was buried at Westminster Abbey, near London.


HENRY VI., OF WINDSOR. A.D. 1423—1461.

The poor little baby, Henry VI., was but nine months old when—over the grave of his father in England, and his grandfather in France—he was proclaimed King of France and England. The crown of England was held over his head, and his lords made their oaths to him: and when he was nine years old he was sent to Paris, and there crowned King of France. He was a very good, little, gentle boy, as meek and obedient as possible; but his friends, who knew that a king must be brave, strong, and firm for his people's sake, began to be afraid that nothing would ever make him manly. The war in France went on all the time: the Duke of Bedford keeping the north and the old lands in the south-west for little Henry, and the French doing their best for their rightful king —though he was so lazy and fond of pleasure that he let them do it all alone.

Yet a wonderful thing happened in his favor. The English were besieging Orleans, when a young village girl, named Joan of Arc, came to King Charles and told him that she had had a commission from Heaven to save Orleans, and to lead him to Rheims, where French kings were always crowned. And she did! She always acted as one led by Heaven. Many wonderful things are told of her, and one circumstance that produced a great impression on the public mind was that when brought into the presence of Charles, whom she had never before seen, she recognized him, although he was dressed plainly, and one of the courtiers had on the royal apparel. She never let anything wrong be done in her sight—no bad words spoken, no savage deeds done; and she never fought herself, only led the French soldiers. The English thought her a witch, and fled like sheep whenever they saw her; and the French common men were always brave with her to lead them. And so she really saved Orleans, and brought the king to be crowned at Rheims. But neither Charles nor his selfish bad nobles liked her. She was too good for them; so, though they would not let her go home to her village as she wished, they gave her no proper help; and once, when there was a fight going on outside the walls of a town, the French all ran away and left her outside, where she was taken by the English. And then, I grieve to say, the court that sat to judge her— some English and some French of the English party—sentenced her to be burnt to death in the market place at Rouen as a witch, and her own king never tried to save her.

But the spirit she had stirred up never died away. The French went on winning back more and more; and there were so many quarrels among the English that they had little chance of keeping anything. The king's youngest uncle, Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, was always disputing with the Beaufort family. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster—father to Henry IV.—had, late in life, married a person of low birth, and her children were called Beaufort, after the castle where they were born—not Plantagenet—and were hardly reckoned as princes by other people; but they were very proud, and thought themselves equal to anybody. The good Duke of Bedford died quite worn out with trying to keep the peace among them, and to get proper help from England to save the lands his brother had won in France. All this time, the king liked the Beauforts much better than Duke Humfrey, and he followed their advice, and that of their friend, the Earl of Suffolk, in marrying Margaret of Anjou— the daughter of a French prince, who had a right to a great part of the lands the English held. All these were given back to her father, and this made the Duke of Gloucester and all the English more angry, and they hated the young queen as the cause. She was as bold and high-spirited as the king was gentle and meek. He loved nothing so well as praying, praising God, and reading; and he did one great thing for the country—which did more for it than all the fighting kings had done—he founded Eton College, close to Windsor Castle; and there many of our best clergymen, and soldiers, and statesmen, have had their education. But while he was happy over rules for his scholars, and in plans for the beautiful chapel, the queen was eagerly taking part in the quarrels, and the nation hated her the more for interfering. And very strangely, Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, was, at the meeting of Parliament, accused of high treason and sent to prison, where, in a few days, he was found dead in his bed—just like his great-uncle, Thomas, Duke of Gloucester; nor does anyone understand the mystery in one case, better than in the other, except that we are more sure that gentle Henry VI. had nothing to do with it than we can be of Richard II.

These were very bad times. There was a rising like Wat Tyler's, under a man named Jack Cade, who held London for two or three days before he was put down; and, almost at the same time, the queen's first English friend, Suffolk, was exiled by her enemies, and taken at sea and murdered by some sailors. Moreover, the last of the brave old friends of Henry V. was killed in France, while trying to save the remains of the old duchy of Aquitaine, which had belonged to the English kings ever since Henry II. married Queen Eleanor. That was the end of the hundred years' war, for peace was made at last, and England kept nothing in France but the one city of Calais.

Still things were growing worse. Duke Humfrey left no children, and as time went on and the king had none, the question was who should reign. If the Beauforts were to be counted as princes, they came next; but everyone hated them, so that people recollected that Henry IV. had thrust aside the young Edmund Mortimer, grandson to Lionel, who had been next eldest to the Black Prince. Edmund was dead, but his sister Anne had married a son of the Duke of York, youngest son of Edward III.; and her son Richard, Duke of York, could not help feeling that he had a much better right to be king than any Beaufort. There was a great English noble named Richard Nevil, Earl of Warwick, who liked to manage everything—just the sort of baron that was always mischievous at home, if not fighting in France—and he took up York's cause hotly. York's friends used to wear white roses, Beaufort's friends red roses, and the two parties kept on getting more bitter; but as no one wished any ill to gentle King Henry—who, to make matters worse, sometimes had fits of madness, like his poor grandfather in France—they would hardly have fought it in his lifetime, if he had not at last had a little son, who was born while he was so mad that he did not know of it. Then, when York found it was of no use to wait, he began to make war, backed up by Warwick, and, after much fighting, they made the king prisoner, and forced him to make an agreement that he should reign as long as he lived, but that after that Richard of York should be king, and his son Edward be only Duke of Lancaster. This made the queen furiously angry. She would not give up her son's rights, and she gathered a great army, with which she came suddenly on the Duke of York near Wakefield, and destroyed nearly his whole army. He was killed in the battle; and his second son, Edmund, was met on Wakefield bridge and stabbed by Lord Clifford; and Margaret had their heads set up over the gates of York, while she went on to London to free her husband.

But Edward, York's eldest son, was a better captain than he, and far fiercer and more cruel. He made the war much more savage than it had been before; and after beating the queen's friends at Mortimer's Cross, he hurried on to London, where the people—who had always been very fond of his father, and hated Queen Margaret—greeted him gladly. He was handsome and stately looking; and though he was really cruel when offended, had easy, good-natured manners, and everyone in London was delighted to receive him and own him as king. But Henry and Margaret were in the north with many friends, and he followed them thither to Towton Moor, where, in a snow storm, began the most cruel and savage battle of all the war. Edward gained the victory, and nobody was spared, or made prisoner—all were killed who could not flee. Poor Henry was hidden among his friends, and Margaret went to seek help in Scotland and abroad, taking her son with her. Once she brought another army and fought at Hexham, but she was beaten again; and before long King Henry was discovered by his enemies, carried to London, and shut up a prisoner in the Tower. His reign is reckoned to have ended in 1461.


EDWARD IV. A.D. 1461—1483.

Though Edward IV. was made king, the wars of the Red and White Roses were not over yet. Queen Margaret and her friends were always trying to get help for poor King Henry. Edward had been so base and mean as to have him led into London, with his feet tied together under his horse, while men struck him on the face, and cried out, "Behold the traitor!" But Henry was meek, patient, and gentle throughout; and, when shut up in the Tower, spent his time in reading and praying, or playing with his little dog.

Queen Margaret and her son Edward were living with her father in France, and she was always trying to have her husband set free, and brought back to his throne. In the meantime, all England was exceeedingly surprised to find that Edward IV. had been secretly married to a beautiful lady named Elizabeth Woodville—Lady Grey. Her first husband had been killed fighting for Henry, and she had stood under an oak tree, when King Edward was passing, to entreat that his lands might not be taken from her little boys. The king fell in love with her and married her, but for a long time he was afraid to tell the Earl of Warwick; and when he did, Warwick was greatly offended—and all the more because Elizabeth's relations were proud and gay in their dress, and tried to set themselves above all the old nobles. Warwick himself had no son, but he had two daughters, whom he meant to marry to the king's two brothers—George, Duke of Clarence, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Edward thought this would make Warwick too powerful, and though he could not prevent George from marrying Isabel Nevil, the eldest daughter, the discontent grew so strong that Warwick persuaded George to fly with him, turn against his own brother, and offer Queen Margaret their help! No wonder Margaret did not trust them, and was very hard to persuade that Warwick could mean well by her; but at last she consented, and gave her son Edward—a fine lad of sixteen—to marry his daughter, Anne Nevil; after which, Warwick—whom men began to call the king-maker— went back to England with Clarence, to raise their men, while she was to follow with her son and his young wife. Warwick came so suddenly that he took the Yorkists at unawares. Edward had to flee for his life to Flanders, leaving his wife and his babies to take shelter in Westminster Abbey—since no one durst take any one out of that holy place—and poor Henry was taken out of prison and set on the throne again. However, Edward soon got help in Flanders, where his sister was married to the Duke of Burgundy. He came back again, gathered his friends, and sent messages to his brother Clarence that he would forgive him if he would desert the earl. No one ever had less faith or honor than George of Clarence. He did desert Warwick, just as the battle of Barnet Heath was beginning; and Warwick's king-making all ended, for he was killed, with his brother and many others, in the battle.

And this was the first news that met Margaret when, after being long hindered by foul weather, she landed at Plymouth. She would have done more wisely to have gone back, but her son Edward longed to strike a blow for his inheritance, and they had friends in Wales whom they hope to meet. So they made their way into Gloucestershire; but there King Edward, with both his brothers, came down upon them at Tewkesbury, and there their army was routed, and the young prince taken and killed—some say by the king himself and his brothers. Poor broken hearted Queen Margaret was made prisoner too, and carried to the Tower, where she arrived a day or two after the meek and crazed captive, Henry VI., had been slain, that there might be no more risings in his name. And so ended the long war of York and Lancaster —though not in peace or joy to the savage, faithless family who had conquered.

Edward was merry and good-natured when not angered, and had quite sense and ability enough to have been a very good king, if he had not been lazy, selfish, and full of vices. He actually set out to conquer France, and then let himself be persuaded over and paid off by the cunning King of France, and went home again, a laughing-stock to everybody. The two kings had an interview on a bridge over the River Somme in France, where they talked through a kind of fence, each being too suspicious of the other to meet, without such a barrier between them. As to George, the king had never trusted him since his shameful behavior when Warwick rebelled; besides, he was always abusing the queen's relations, and Richard was always telling the king of all the bad and foolish things he did or said. At last there was a great outbreak of anger, and the king ordered the Duke of Clarence to be imprisoned in the Tower; and there, before long, he too was killed. The saying was that he was drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine, but this is not at all likely to be true. He left two little children, a boy and a girl.

So much cruel slaughter had taken place, that most of the noble families in England had lost many sons, and a great deal of their wealth, and none of them ever became again so mighty as the king- maker had been. His daughter, Anne, the wife of poor Edward of Lancaster, was found by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, hidden as a cook-maid in London, and she was persuaded to marry him—as, indeed, she had always been intended for him. He was a little, thin, slight man, with one shoulder higher than the other, and keen, cunning dark eyes; and as the king was very tall, with a handsome, blue-eyed face, people laughed at the contrast, called Gloucester Richard Crook-back and were very much afraid of him.

It was in this reign that books began to be printed in England instead of written. Printing had been found out in Germany a little before, and books had been shown to Henry VI., but the troubles of his time kept him from attending to them. Now, however, Edward's sister, the Duchess of Burgundy, much encouraged a printer named Caxton, whose books she sent her brother, and other presses were set up in London. Another great change had come in. Long ago, in the time of Henry III., a monk name Roger Bacon had made gunpowder; but nobody used it much until, in the reign of Edward III., it was found out how cannon might be fired with it; and some say it was first used in the battle of Crecy. But it was not till the reign of Edward IV. that smaller guns, such as each soldier could carry one of for himself, were invented— harquebuses, as they were called;—and after this the whole way of fighting was gradually altered. Printing and gunpowder both made great changes in everything, though not all at once. King Edward did not live to see the changes. He had hurt his health with his revellings and amusements, and died quite in middle age, in the year 1483: seeing, perhaps, at last, how much better a king he might have been.


EDWARD V. A.D. 1483.

Edward IV. left several daughters and two sons—Edward, Prince of Wales, who was fourteen years old, and Richard, Duke of York, who was eleven. Edward was at Ludlow Castle—where the princes of Wales were always brought up—with his mother's brother, Lord Rivers; his half- brother, Richard Grey; and other gentlemen.

When the tidings came of his father's death, they set out to bring him to London to be crowned king.

But, in the meantime, the Duke of Gloucester and several of the noblemen, especially the Duke of Buckingham, agreed that it was unbearable that the queen and her brothers should go on having all the power, as they had done in Edward's time. Till the king was old enough to govern, his father's brother, the Duke of Gloucester, was the proper person to rule for him, and they would soon put an end to the Woodvilles. The long wars had made everybody cruel and regardless of the laws, so that no one made much objection when Gloucester and Buckingham met the king and took him from his uncle and half-brother, who were sent off to Pontefract Castle, and in a short time their heads were cut off there. Another of the late king's friends was Lord Hastings; and as he sat at the council table in the Tower of London, with the other lords, Richard came in, and showing his own lean, shrunken arm, declared that Lord Hastings had bewitched him, and made it so. The other lords began to say the if he done so it was horrible. But Richard would listen to no ifs, and said he would not dine till Hasting's head was off. And his cruel word was done.

The queen saw that harm was intended, and went with all her other children to her former refuge in the sanctuary at Westminster; nor would she leave it when her son Edward rode in state into London and was taken to the Tower, which was then a palace as well as a prison.

The Duke of Gloucester and the Council said that this pretence at fear was very foolish, and that the little Duke of York ought to be with his brother; and they sent the Archbishop of Canterbury to desire her to give the boy up. He found the queen sitting desolate, with all her long light hair streaming about her, and her children round her; and he spoke kindly to her at first and tried to persuade her of what he really believed himself—that it was all her foolish fears and fancies that the Duke of Gloucester could mean any ill to his little nephew, and that the two brothers ought to be together in his keeping.

Elizabeth cried, and said that the boys were better apart, for they quarrelled when they were together, and that she could not give up little Richard. In truth, she guessed that their uncle wanted to get rid of them and to reign himself; and she knew that while she had Richard, Edward would be safe, since it would not make him king to destroy one without the other. Archbishop Morton, who believed Richard's smooth words, and was a very good, kind man, thought this all a woman's nonsense, and told her that if she would not give up the boy freely, he would be taken from her by force. If she had been really a wise, brave mother, she would have gone to the Tower with her boy, as queen and mother, and watched over her children herself. But she had always been a silly, selfish woman, and she was afraid for herself. So she let the archbishop lead her child away, and only sat crying in the sanctuary instead of keeping sight of him.

The next thing that happened was, that the Duke of Gloucester caused one Dr. Shaw to preach a sermon to the people of London in the open air, explaining that King Edward IV. had been a very bad man, and had never been properly married to Lady Grey, and so that she was no queen at all, and her children had no right to reign. The Londoners liked Gloucester and hated the Woodvilles, and all belonging to them, and after some sermons and speeches of this sort, there were so many people inclined to take as their king the man rather than the boy, that the Duke of Buckingham led a deputation to request Richard to accept the crown in his nephew's stead. He met it as if the whole notion was quite new to him, but, of course, accepted the crown, sent for his wife, Anne Nevil, and her son, and was soon crowned as King Richard III. of England.

As for the two boys, they were never seen out of the Tower again. They were sent into the prison part of it, and nobody exactly knows what became of them there; but there cannot be much doubt that they must have been murdered. Some years later, two men confessed that they had been employed to smother the two brothers with pillows, as they slept; and though they added some particulars to the story that can hardly be believed, it is most likely that this was true. Full two hundred years later, a chest was found under a staircase, in what is called the White Tower, containing bones that evidently had belonged to boys of about fourteen and eleven years old; and these were placed in a marble urn among the tombs of the kings in Westminster Abbey. But even to this day, there are some people who doubt whether Edward V. and Richard of York were really murdered, or if Richard were not a person who came back to England and tried to make himself king.


RICHARD III. A.D. 1483—1485.

Richard III. seems to have wished to be a good and great king; but he had made his way to the throne in too evil a manner to be likely to prosper. How many people he had put to death we do not know, for when the English began to suspect the he had murdered his two nephews, they also accused him of the death of everyone who had been secretly slain ever since Edward IV. came to the throne, when he had been a mere boy. He found he must be always on the watch; and his home was unhappy, for his son, for whose sake he had striven so hard to be king, died while yet a boy, and Anne, his wife, not long after.

Then his former staunch friend, the Duke of Buckingham, began to feel that though he wanted the sons of Elizabeth Woodville to be set aside from reigning, it was quite another thing to murder them. He was a vain, proud man, who had a little royal blood—being descended from Thomas, the first Duke of Gloucester, son of Edward III.—and he bethought himself that, now all the House of Lancaster was gone, and so many of the House of York, he might possibly become king. But he had hardly begun to make a plot, before the keen-sighted, watchful Richard found it out, and had him seized and beheaded.

There was another plot, though, that Richard did not find out in time. The real House of Lancaster had ended when poor young Edward was killed at Tewkesbury; but the Beauforts—the children of that younger family of John of Gaunt, who had first begun the quarrel with the Duke of York—were not all dead. Lady Margaret Beaufort, the daughter of the eldest son, had married a Welsh gentleman named Edmund Tudor, and had a son called Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond. Edward IV. had always feared that this youth might rise against him, and he had been obliged to wander about in France and Brittany since the death of his father; but nobody was afraid of Lady Margaret, and she had married a Yorkist nobleman, Lord Stanley.

Now, the eldest daughter of Edward IV.—Elizabeth, or Lady Bessee, as she was called—was older than her poor young brothers; and she heard, to her great horror, that her uncle wanted to commit the great wickedness of making her his wife, after poor Anne Nevil's death. There is a curious old set of verses, written by Lord Stanley's squire, which says that Lady Bessee called Lord Stanley to a secret room, and begged him to send to his stepson, Richmond, to invite him to come to England and set them all free.

Stanley said he could not write well enough, and that he could not trust a scribe; but Lady Bessee said she could write as well as any scribe in England. So she told him to come to her chamber at nine that evening, with his trusty squire; and there she wrote letters, kneeling by the table, to all the noblemen likely to be discontented with Richard, and appointing a place of meeting with Stanley; and she promised herself that, if Henry Tudor would come and overthrow the cruel tyrant Richard, she would marry him: and she sent him a ring in pledge of her promise.

Henry was in Brittany when he received the letter. He kissed the ring, but waited long before he made up his mind to try his fortune. At last he sailed in a French ship, and landed at Milford Haven—for he knew the Welsh would be delighted to see him; and, as he was really descended from the great British chiefs, they seemed to think that to make him king of England would be almost like having King Arthur back again.

They gathered round him, and so did a great many English nobles and gentlemen. But Richard, though very angry, was not much alarmed, for he knew Henry Tudor had never seen a battle. He marched out to meet him, and a terrible fight took place at Redmore Heath, near Market Bosworth, where, after long and desperate struggling, Richard was overwhelmed and slain, his banner taken, and his men either killed or driven from the field. His body was found gashed, bleeding, and stripped; and thus was thrown across a horse and carried into Leicester, where he had slept the night before.

The crown he had worn over his helmet was picked up from the branches of a hawthorn, and set on the head of Henry Tudor. Richard was the last king of the Plantagenet family, who had ruled over England for more than three hundred years. This battle of Bosworth likewise finished the whole bloody war of the Red and White Roses.


HENRY VII. A.D. 1485—1509.

Henry Tudor married the Lady Bessee as soon as he came to London, and by this marriage the causes of the Red and white Roses were united; so that he took for his badge a great rose—half red and half white. You may see it carved all over the beautiful chapel that he built on to Westminster Abbey to be buried in.

He was not a very pleasant person; he was stiff, and cold, and dry, and very mean and covetous in some ways—though he liked to make a grand show, and dress all his court in cloth of gold and silver, and the very horses in velvet housings, whenever there was any state occasion. Nobody greatly cared for him; but the whole country was so worn out with the troubles of the Wars of the Roses, that there was no desire to interfere with him; and people only grumbled, and said he did not treat his gentle, beautiful wife Elizabeth as he ought to do, but was jealous of her being a king's daughter. There was one person who did hate him most bitterly, and that was the Duchess of Burgundy, the sister of Edward IV. and Richard III.: the same who, as I told you, encouraged printing so much. She felt as if a mean upstart had got into the place of her brothers, and his having married her niece did not make it seem a bit the better to her. There was one nephew left—the poor young orphan son of George, Duke of Clarence—but he had always been quite silly, and Henry VII. had him watched carefully, for fear some one should set him up to claim the crown. He was called Earl of Warwick, as heir to his grandfather, the king-maker.

Suddenly, a young man came to Ireland and pretended to be this Earl of Warwick. He deceived a good many of the Irish, and the Mayor of Dublin actually took him to St. Patrick's Cathedral, where he was crowned as King Edward the Sixth: and then he was carried to the banquet upon an Irish chieftain's back. He came to England with some Irish followers, and some German soldiers hired by the duchess; and a few, but not many, English joined him. Henry met him at a village called Stoke, near Newark, and all his Germans and Irish were killed, and he himself made prisoner. Then he confessed that he was really a baker's son named Lambert Simnel; and, as he turned out to be a poor weak lad, whom designing people had made to do just what they pleased, the king took him into his kitchen as a scullion; and, as he behaved well there, afterwards set him to look after the falcons, that people used to keep to go out with to catch partridges and herons.

But after this, a young man appeared under the protection of the Duchess of Burgundy, who said he was no other than the poor little Duke of York, Richard, who had escaped from the Tower when his brother was murdered. Englishmen, who came from Flanders, said that he was a clever, cowardly lad of the name of Peter (or Perkin) Warbeck, the son of a townsman of Tournay; but the duchess persuaded King James IV. of Scotland to believe him a real royal Plantagenet. He went to Edinburgh, married a beautiful lady, cousin to the king, and James led him into England at the head of an army to put forward his claim. But nobody would join him, and the Scots did not care about him; so James sent him away to Ireland, whence he went to Cornwall. However, he soon found fighting was of no use, and fled away to the New Forest, where he was taken prisoner. He was set in the stocks, and there made to confess that he was really Perkin Warbeck and no duke, and then he was shut up in the Tower. But there he made friends with the real Earl of Warwick, and persuaded him into a plan for escape; but this was found out, and Henry, thinking that he should never have any peace or safety whilst either of them was alive, caused Perkin to be hanged, and poor innocent Edward of Warwick to be beheaded.

It was thought that this cruel deed was done because Henry found that foreign kings did not think him safe upon the throne while one Plantagenet was left alive, and would not give their children in marriage to his sons and daughters. He was very anxious to make grand marriages for his children, and make peace with Scotland by a wedding between King James and his eldest daughter, Margaret. For his eldest son, Arthur, Prince of Wales, he obtained Katharine, the daughter of the King of Aragon and Queen of Castille, and she was brought to England while both were mere children. Prince Arthur died when only eighteen years old; and King Henry then said that they had been both such children that they could not be considered really married, and so that Katharine had better marry his next son, Henry, although everyone knew that no marriage between a man and his brother's widow could be lawful. The truth was that he did not like to give up all the money and jewels she had brought; and the matter remained in dispute for some years—nor was it settled when King Henry himself died, after an illness that no one expected would cause his death. Nobody was very sorry for him, for he had been hard upon everyone, and had encouraged two wicked judges, named Dudley and Empson, who made people pay most unjust demands, and did everything to fill the king's treasury and make themselves rich at the same time.

It was a time when many changes were going on peacefully. The great nobles had grown much poorer and less powerful; and the country squires and chief people in the towns reckoned for much more in the State. Moreover, there was much learning and study going on everywhere. Greek began to be taught as well as Latin, and the New Testament was thus read in the language in which the apostles themselves wrote; and that led people to think over some of the evil ways that had grown up in their churches and abbeys, during those long, grievous years, when no one thought of much but fighting, or of getting out of the way of the enemy.

The king himself, and all his family, loved learning, and nobody more than his son Henry, who—if his elder brother had lived—was to have been archbishop of Canterbury.

It was in this reign, too, that America was discovered—though not by the English, but by Christopher Columbus, an Italian, who came out in ships that were lent to him by Isabel, the Queen of Spain, mother to Katharine, Princess of Wales. Henry had been very near sending Columbus, only he did not like spending so much money. How ever, he afterwards did send out some ships, which discovered Newfoundland. Henry died in the year 1509.



The new king was very fond of the Princess Katharine, and he married her soon after his father's death, without asking any more questions about the right or wrong of it. He began with very gallant and prosperous times. He was very handsome, and skilled in all sports and games, and had such frank, free manners, that the people felt as if they had one of their best old Plantagenets back again. They were pleased, too, when he quarreled with the King of France, and like an old Plantagenet, led an army across the sea and besieged the town of Tournay. Again, it was like the time of Edward III., for James IV. of Scotland was a friend of the French king, and came across the Border with all the strength of Scotland, to ravage England while Henry was away. But there were plenty of stout Englishmen left, and under the Earl of Surrey, they beat the Scots entirely at the battle of Flodden field; and King James himself was not taken, but left dead upon the field, while his kingdom went to his poor little baby son. Though there had been a battle in France it was not another Crecy, for the French ran away so fast that it was called the battle of the Spurs. However, Henry's expedition did not come to much, for he did not get all the help he was promised; and he made peace with the French king, giving him in marriage his beautiful young sister Mary— though King Louis was an old, helpless, sickly man. Indeed, he only lived six weeks after the wedding, and before there was time to fetch Queen Mary home again, she had married a gentleman named Charles Brandon. She told he brother that she had married once to please him, and now she had married to please herself. But he forgave her, and made her husband Duke of Suffolk.

Henry's chief adviser, at this time, was Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York; a very able man, and of most splendid tastes and habits— outdoing even the Tudors in love of show. The pope had made him a cardinal—that is, one of the clergy, who are counted as parish priests in the diocese of Rome, and therefore have a right to choose the pope. They wear scarlet hats, capes, and shoes, and are the highest rank of all the clergy except the pope. Indeed, Cardinal Wolsey was in hopes of being chosen pope himself, and setting the whole Church to rights—for there had been several very wicked men reigning at Rome, one after the other, and they had brought things to such a pass that everyone felt there would be some great judgment from God if some improvement were not made. Most of Wolsey's arrangements with foreign princes had this end in view. The new king of France, Francis I., was young, brilliant and splendid, like Henry, and the two had a conference near Calais, when they brought their queens and their whole Court, and put up tents of velvet, silk, and gold—while everything was so extraordinarily magnificent, that the meeting has ever since been called the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

However, nothing came of it all. Cardinal Wolsey thought Francis's enemy—the Emperor Charles V.—more likely to help him to be pope, and make his master go over to that side; but after all an Italian was chosen in his stead. And there came a new trouble in his way. The king and queen had been married a good many years, and they had only one child alive, and that was a girl, the Lady Mary—all the others had died as soon as they were born—and statesmen began to think that if there never was a son at all, there might be fresh wars when Henry died; while others said that the loss of the children was to punish them for marrying unlawfully. Wolsey himself began to wish that the pope would say that it had never been a real marriage, and so to set the king free to put Katharine away and take another wife— some grand princess abroad. This was thinking more of what seemed prudent than of the right; and it turned out ill for Wolsey and all besides, for no sooner had the notion of setting aside poor Katharine come into his mind, than the king cast his eyes on Anne Boleyn, one of her maids of honor—a lively lady, who had been to France with his sister Mary. He was bent on marrying her, and insisted on the pope's giving sentence against Katharine. But the pope would not make any answer at all; first, because he was enquiring, and then because he could not well offend Katharine's nephew, the Emperor. Time went on, and the king grew more impatient, and at last a clergyman, named Thomas Cranmer, said that he might settle the matter by asking the learned men at the universities whether it was lawful for a man to marry his brother's widow. "He has got the right sow by the ear," cried Henry, who was not choice in his words, and he determined that the universities should decide it. But Wolsey would not help the king here. He knew that the pope had been the only person to decide such questions all over the Western Church for many centuries; and, besides, he had never intended to assist the king to lower himself by taking a wife like Anne Boleyn. But his secretary, Thomas Crumwell, told the king all of Wolsey's disapproval, and between them they found out something that the cardinal had done by the king's own wish, but which did not agree with the old disused laws. He was put down from all his offices of state, and accused of treason against the king; but while he was being brought to London to be tried, he became so ill at the abbey at Leicester that he was forced to remain there, and in a few days he died, saying, sadly—"If I had served God as I have served my king, He would not have forsaken me in my old age."

With Cardinal Wolsey ended the first twenty years of Henry's reign, and all that had ever been good in it.



When Henry VIII. had so ungratefully treated Cardinal Wolsey, there was no one to keep him in order. He would have no more to do with the pope, but said he was head of the Church of England himself, and could settle matters his own way. He really was a very learned man, and had written a book to uphold the doctrines of the Church, which had caused the people to call him the Defender of the Faith. After the king's or queen's name on an English coin you may see F.D.—Fidei Defensor. This stands for that name in Latin. But Henry used his learning now against the pope. He declared that his marriage with Katharine was good for nothing, and sent her away to a house in Huntingdonshire, where, in three years' time, she pined away and died. In the meantime, he had married Anne Boleyn, taken Crumwell for his chief adviser, and had made Thomas Cranmer archbishop of Canterbury. Then, calling himself the head of the Church, he insisted that all his people should own him as such; but the good ones knew that our Lord Jesus Christ is the only real Head of the Church, and they had learnt to believe that the pope is the father bishop of the west, though he had sometimes taken more power than he ought, and no king could ever be the same as a patriarch or father bishop. So they refused, and Henry cut off the heads of two of the best—Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More— though they had been his great friends. Sir Thomas More's good daughter Margaret, came and kissed him on his way to be executed; and afterwards, when his head was placed on a spike on London Bridge, she came by night in a boat and took it home in her arms.

There were many people, however, who were glad to break with the pope, because so much had gone amiss in the Church, and they wanted to set it to rights. There was so much more reading, now that printing had been invented, that many could read who had never learnt Latin, and so a translation of the Bible was to be made for them, and there was a great desire that the Church Services—many of which had also been in Latin—should likewise be put into English, and the litany was first translated, but no more at present. The king and Crumwell had taken it upon them to go on with what had been begun in Wolsey's time—the looking into the state of all the monasteries. Some were found going on badly, and the messengers took care to make the worst of everything. So all the worst houses were broken up, and the monks sent to their homes, with a small payment to maintain them for the rest of their lives.

As to the lands that good men of old had given to keep up the convents, that God might be praised there, Henry made gifts of them to the lords about Court. Whoever chose to ask for an abbey could get it, from the king's good nature; and, as they wanted more and more, Henry went on breaking up the monasteries, till the whole of them were gone. A good deal of their riches he kept for himself, and two new bishoprics were endowed from their spoils, but most of them were bestowed on the courtiers. The king, however, did not at all intend to change the teaching of the Church, and whenever a person was detected in teaching any thing contrary to her doctrines, as they were at the time understood, he was tried by a court of clergymen and lawyers before the bishop, and, if convicted, was—according to the cruel custom of those times—burnt to death at a stake in the market place of the next town.

Meantime, the new queen, Anne Boleyn, whom the king had married privately in May, 1533, had not prospered. She had one little daughter, named Elizabeth, and a son, who died; and then the king began to admire one of her ladies, named Jane Seymour. Seeing this Anne's enemies either invented stories against her, or made the worst of some foolish, unlady-like, and unqueen-like things she had said and done, so that the king thought she wished for his death. She was accused of high treason, sentenced to death, and beheaded: thus paying a heavy price for the harm she had done good Queen Katharine.

The king, directly after, married Jane Seymour; but she lived only a very short time, dying immediately after the christening of her first son, who was named Edward.

Then the king was persuaded by Lord Crumwell to marry a foreign princess called Anne of Cleves. A great painter was sent to bring her picture, and made her very beautiful in it; but when she arrived, she proved to be not only plain-featured but large and clumsy, and the king could not bear the sight of her, and said they had sent him a great Flanders mare by way of queen. So he made Cranmer find some foolish excuse for breaking this marriage also, and was so angry with Thomas Crumwell for having led him into it, that this favorite was in turn thrown into prison and beheaded.

The king chose another English wife, named Katharine Howard; but, after he had married her, it was found out that she had been very ill brought up, and the bad people with whom she had been left came and accused her of the evil into which they had led her. So the king cut off her head, likewise, and then wanted to find another wife; but no foreign princess would take a husband who had put away two wives and beheaded two more, and one Italian lady actually answered that she was much obliged to him, but she could not venture to marry him, because she had only one neck.

At last he found an English widow, Lady Latimer, whose maiden name was Katharine Parr, and married her. He was diseased now, lame with gout, and very large and fat; and she nursed him kindly, and being a good-natured woman, persuaded him to be kinder to his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, than he had ever been since the disgrace of their mothers; and she did her best to keep him in good humor, but he went on doing cruel things, even to the end of his life; and, at the very last, had in prison the very same Duke of Norfolk who had won the battle of Flodden, and would have put him to death in a few days' time, only that his own death prevented it.

Yet, strange to say, Henry VIII. was not hated as might have been expected. His cruelties were chiefly to the nobles, not to the common people; and he would do good-natured things, and speak with a frank, open manner, that was much liked. England was prosperous, too, and shopkeepers, farmers, and all were well off; there was plenty of bread and meat for all, and the foreign nations were afraid to go to war with us. So the English people, on the whole, loved "Bluff King Hal," as they called him, and did not think much about his many wickednesses, or care how many heads he cut off. He died in the year 1547. The changes in his time are generally called the beginning of the Reformation.


EDWARD VI. A.D. 1547—1553.

The little son of Henry VIII. and Jane Seymour of course reigned after him as Edward VI. He was a quiet, gentle boy exceedingly fond of learning and study, and there were great expectations of him; but, as he was only nine years old, the affairs of state were managed by his council.

The chief of the council were his two uncles—his mother's brothers, Edward and Thomas Seymour, the elder of whom had been made Duke of Somerset—together with Archbishop Cranmer; but it was not long before the duke quarreled with his brother Thomas, put him into the Tower, and cut off his head, so that it seemed as if the days of Henry VIII. were not yet over.

The Duke of Somerset and Archbishop Cranmer wanted to make many more changes in the Church of England than Henry VIII. had ever allowed. They had all the Prayer-book Services translated into English, leaving out such parts as they did not approve; The Lessons were read from the English Bible, and people were greatly delighted at being able to worship and to listen to God's Word in their own tongue. The first day on which the English Prayer-book was used was the Whitsunday of 1548. The Bibles were chained to the desks as being so precious and valuable; and crowds would stand, or sit, and listen for hours together to any one who would read to them, without caring if he were a clergyman or not; and men who tried to explain, without being properly taught, often made great mistakes.

Indeed, in Germany and France a great deal of the same kind had been going on for some time past, though not with any sort of leave from the kings or bishops, as there was in England, and thus the reformers there broke quite off from the Church, and fancied they could do without bishops. This great break was called the Reformation, because it professed to set matters of religion to rights; and in Germany the reformers called themselves Protestants, because they protested some of the teachings of the Church of Rome.

Cranmer had at one time been in Germany, and had made friends with some of these German and Swiss Protestants, and he invited them to England to consult and help him and his friends. Several of them came, and they found fault with our old English Prayer-book—though it had never been the same as the Roman one—and it was altered again to please them and their friends, and brought out as King Edward's second book. Indeed, they tried to persuade the English to be like themselves—with very few services, no ornaments in the churches, and no bishops; and things seemed to be tending more and more to what they desired, for the king was too young not to do what his tutors and governors wished, and his uncle and Cranmer were all on their side.

However, there was another great nobleman, the Duke of Northumberland, who wanted to be as powerful as the Duke of Somerset. He was the son of Dudley, the wicked judge under Henry VII., who had made himself so rich, and he managed to take advantage of the people being discontented with Somerset to get the king into his own hands, accuse Somerset of treason, send him to the Tower, and cut off his head.

The king at this time was sixteen. He had never been strong, and he had learnt and worked much more than was good for him. He wrote a journal, and though he never says he grieved for his uncles, most likely he did, for he had few near him who really loved or cared for him, and he was fast falling into decline, so that it became quite plain that he was not likely ever to be a grown-up king. There was a great difficulty as to who was to reign after him. The natural person would have been his eldest sister, Mary, but King Henry had forbidden her and Elizabeth to be spoken of as princesses or heiresses of the crown; and, besides, Mary held so firmly to the Church, as she had learnt to believe in it in her youth, that the reformers knew she would undo all their work.

There was a little Scottish girl, also named Mary—the grand-daughter of Margaret, eldest daughter of Henry VII. Poor child, she had been a queen from babyhood, for her father had died of grief when she was but a week old; and there had been some notion of marrying her to King Edward, and so ending the wars, but the Scots did not like this, and sent her away to be married to the Dauphin, Francois, eldest son of the king of France. If Edward's sisters were not to reign, she came next; but the English would not have borne to be joined on to the French; and there were the grand-daughters of Mary, that other sister of Henry VIII., who were thorough Englishwomen. Lady Jane Grey, the eldest of them, was a good, sweet, pious, and diligent girl of fifteen, wonderfully learned. But it was not for that reason, only for the sake of the royal blood, that the Duke of Northumberland asked her in marriage for his son, Guildford Dudley. When they were married, the duke and Cranmer began to persuade the poor, sick, young king that it was his duty to leave his crown away from his sister Mary to Lady Jane, who would go on with the Reformation, while Mary would try to overthrow it. In truth, young Edward had not right to will away the crown; but he was only sixteen, and could only trust to what the archbishop and his council told him. So he signed the parchment they brought him, and after that he quickly grew worse.

The people grew afraid that Northumberland was shutting him up and misusing him, and once he came to the window of his palace and looked out at them, to show he was alive; but he died only a fortnight later, and we cannot guess what he would have been when he was grown up.


MARY I. A.D. 1553—1588.

The Duke of Northumberland kept king Edward's death a secret till he had proclaimed Jane queen of England. The poor girl knew that a great wrong was being done in her name. She wept bitterly, and begged that she might not be forced to accept the crown; but she could do nothing to prevent it, when her father and husband, and his father, all were bent on making her obey them; and so she had to sit as a queen in the royal apartments in the Tower of London.

But as soon as the news reached Mary, she set off riding towards London; and, as everyone knew her to be the right queen, and no one would be tricked by Dudley, the whole of the people joined her, and even Northumberland was obliged to throw up his hat and cry "God save Queen Mary." Jane and her husband were safely kept, but Mary meant no harm by them if their friends would have been quiet. However, the people became discontented when Mary began to have the Latin service used again, and put Archbishop Cranmer in prison for having favored Jane. She showed in every way that she thought all her brother's advisers had done very wrong. She wanted to be under the Pope again, and she engaged herself to marry the King of Spain, her cousin, Philip II. This was very foolish of her, for she was a middle-aged woman, pale, and low-spirited; and he was much younger, and of a silent, gloomy temper, so that everyone was afraid of him. All her best friends advised her not, and the English hated the notion so much, that the little children played at the queen's wedding in their games, and always ended by pretending to hang the King of Spain. Northumberland thought this discontent gave another chance for his plan, and tried to raise the people in favor of Jane; but so few joined him that Mary very soon put them down, and beheaded Northumberland. She thought, too, that the quiet of the country would never be secure while Jane lived, and so she consented to her being put to death. Jane behaved with beautiful firmness and patience. Her husband was led out first and beheaded, and then she followed. She was most good and innocent in herself, and it was for the faults of others that she suffered. Mary's sister Elizabeth, was suspected, and sent to the Tower. She came in a boat on the Thames to the Traitor's Gate; but, when she found where she was, she sat down on the stone steps and said, "This is a place for traitors, and I am none." After a time she was allowed to live in the country, but closely watched.

Philip of Spain came and was married to Mary. She was very fond of him, but he was not very kind to her, and he had too much to do in his other kingdoms to spend much time with her, so that she was always pining after him. Her great wish in choosing him was to be helped in bringing the country back to the old obedience to the Pope; and she succeeded in having the English Church reconciled, and received again to communion with Rome. The new service she would under no consideration have established in her house. This displeased many of her subjects exceedingly. They thought they should be forbidden to read the Bible—they could not endure the Latin service—and those who had been taught by the foreigners fancied that all proper reverence and beauty in church was a sort of idolatry. Some fled away into Holland and Germany, and others, who staid, and taught loudly against the doctrines that were to be brought back again, were seized and thrown into prison.

Those bishops who had been foremost in the changes of course were the first to be tried for their teaching. The punishment was the dreadful one of being burnt alive, chained to a stake. Bishop Hooper died in this way at Gloucester, and Bishop Ridley and Bishop Latimer were both burnt at the same time at Oxford, encouraging one another to die bravely as martyrs for the truth, as they held it. Cranmer was in prison already for supporting Jane Grey, and he was condemned to death; but he was led to expect that he would be spared the fire if he would allow that the old faith, as Rome held it, was the right one. Paper after paper was brought, such as would please the queen and his judges, and he signed them all; but after all, it turned out that none would do, and that he was to be burnt in spite of them. The he felt what a base part he had acted, and was ashamed when he thought how bravely his brethren had died on the same spot: and when he was chained to the stake and the fire lighted, he held his right hand over the flame to be burnt first, because it had signed what he did not really believe, and he cried out, "This unworthy hand!"

Altogether, about three hundred people were burnt in Queen Mary's reign for denying one or other of the doctrines that the Pope thought the right ones. It was a terrible time; and the queen, who had only longed to do right and restore her country to the Church, found herself hated and disliked by everyone. Even the Pope, who had a quarrel with her husband, did not treat her warmly; and the nobles, who had taken possession of the abbey lands, were determined never to let her restore them. Her husband did not love her, or like England. However, he persuaded her to help him in a war with the French, with which England out to have had nothing to do, and the consequence was that a brave French duke took the city of Calais, the very last possession of the English in France. Mary was so exceedingly grieved, that she said that when she died the name of Calais would be found written on her heart.

She was already ill, and there was a bad fever at the time, of which many of those she most loved and trusted had fallen sick. She died, in 1558, a melancholy and sorrowful woman, after reigning only five years.


ELIZABETH. A.D. 1558—1587.

All through Queen Mary's time, her sister Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn's daughter, had been in trouble. Those who held by Queen Mary, and maintained Henry's first marriage, said that his wedding with Anne was no real one, and so that Elizabeth ought not to reign; but then there was no one else to take in her stead, except the young Queen Mary of Scotland, wife to the French dauphin. All who wished for the Reformation, and dreaded Mary's persecutions had hoped to see Elizabeth queen, and this had made Mary much afraid of her; and she was so closely watched and guarded that once she even said she wished she was a milkmaid, to be left in peace. While she had been in the Tower she had made friends with another prisoner, Robert Dudley, brother to the husband of Lady Jane Grey, and she continued to like him better than any other person as long as he lived.

When Mary died, Elizabeth was twenty-five, and the English were mostly willing to have her for their queen. She had read, thought, and learnt a great deal; and she took care to have the advice of wise men, especially of the great Thomas Cecil, whom she made Lord Burleigh, and kept as her adviser as long as he lived. She did not always follow even his advice, however; but, whenever she did, it was the better for her. She knew Robert Dudley was not wise, so, though she was so fond of him, she never let him manage her affairs for her. She would have wished to marry, but she knew her subjects would think this disgraceful, so she only made him Earl of Leicester: and her liking for him prevented her from ever bringing herself to accept any of the foreign princes who were always making proposals to her. Unfortunately he was not a good man, and did not make a good use of her favor, and he was much disliked by all the queen's best friends.

She was very fond of making stately journeys through the country. All the poor people ran to see her and admire her; but the noblemen who had to entertain her were almost ruined, she brought so many people who ate so much, and she expected such presents. These journeys were called Progresses. The most famous was to Lord Leicester's castle of Kenilworth, but he could quite afford it. He kept the clock's hands at twelve o'clock all the time, that it might always seem to be dinner time!

Elizabeth wanted to keep the English Church a pure and true branch of the Church, free of the mistakes that had crept in before her father's time. So she restored the English Prayer-book, and cancelled all that Mary had done; the people who had gone into exile returned, and all the Protestants abroad reckoned her as on their side. But, on the other hand, the Pope would not regard her as queen at all, and cut her and her country off from the Church, while Mary of Scotland and her husband called themselves the true queen and king of England; and such of the English as believed the Pope to have the first right over the Church, held with him and Mary of Scotland. They were called Roman Catholics, while Elizabeth and her friends were the real Catholics, for they held with the Church Universal of old: and it was the Pope who had broken off with them for not accepting his doctrines, not they with the Pope. The English who had lived abroad in Mary's time wanted to have much more altered, and to have churches and services much less beautiful and more plain than they were. But Elizabeth never would consent to this; and these people called themselves Puritans, and continued to object to the Episcopal form of worship.

Mary of Scotland was two years queen of France, and then her husband died, and she had to come back to Scotland. There most of the people had taken up the doctrines that made them hate the sight of the clergy and services she had brought home from France; they called her an idolater, and would hardly bear that she should hear the old service in her own chapel. She was one of the most beautiful and charming women who ever lived, and if she had been as true and good as she was lovely, nobody could have done more good; but the court of France at that time was a wicked place, and she had learnt much of the wickedness. She married a young nobleman named Henry Stuart, a cousin of her own, but he turned out foolish, selfish and head-strong, and made her miserable; indeed, he helped to kill her secretary in her own bedroom before her eyes. She hated him so much at last, that there is only too much reason to fear that she knew of the plot, laid by some of her lords, to blow the poor man's house up with gunpowder, while he lay is his bed ill of smallpox. At any rate, she very soon married one of the very worst of the nobles who had committed the murder. Her subjects could not bear this, and they rose against her and made her prisoner, while her husband fled the country. They shut her up in a castle in the middle of a lake, and obliged her to give up her crown to her little son, James VI.—a baby not a year old. However, her sweet words persuaded a boy who waited on her to steal the keys, and row her across the lake, and she was soon at the head of an army of her Roman Catholic subjects. They were defeated, however, and she found no place safe for her in Scotland, so she fled across the Border to England. Queen Elizabeth hardly knew what to do. She believed that Mary had really had to do with Henry Stuart's death, but she could not bear to make such a crime known in a cousin and queen; and what made it all more difficult to judge was, that the kings of France and Spain, and all the Roman Catholics at home, thought Mary ought to be queen instead of Elizabeth, and she might have been set up against England if she might had gone abroad, or been left at large, while in Scotland she would have been murdered. The end of it was that Elizabeth kept her shut up in different castles. There she managed to interest the English Roman Catholics in her, and get them to lay plots, which always were found out. Then nobles were put to death, and Mary was more closely watched. This went on for nineteen years, and at last a worse plot than all was found out—for actually killing Queen Elizabeth. Her servants did not act honorably, for when they found out what was going on they pretended not to know, so that Mary might go on writing worse and worse things, and then, at last, the whole was made known. Mary was tried and sentenced to death, but Elizabeth was a long time making up her mind to sign the order for her execution, and at last punished the clerks who sent it off, as if it had been their fault.

So Queen Mary of Scotland was beheaded at Fotheringay Castle, showing much bravery and piety. There are many people who still believe that she was really innocent of all that she was accused of, and that she only was ruined by the plots that were laid against her.


ELIZABETH'S REIGN. A.D. 1587—1602.

No reign ever was more glorious or better for the people than Queen Elizabeth's. It was a time when there were many very great men living —soldiers, sailors, writers, poets—and they all loved and look up to the queen as the mother of her country. There really was nothing she did love like the good of her people, and somehow they all felt and knew it, and "Good Queen Bess" had their hearts—though she was not always right, and had some serious faults.

The worst of her faults was not telling the truth. Somehow kings and rulers had, at that time, learnt to believe that when they were dealing with other countries anything was fair, and that it was not wrong to tell falsehoods to hide a secret, nor to make promises they never meant to keep. People used to do so who would never have told a lie on their own account to their neighbor, and Lord Burleigh and Queen Elizabeth did so very often, and often behaved meanly and shabbily to people who had trusted to their promises. Her other fault was vanity. She was a little woman, with bright eyes, and rather hooked nose, and sandy hair, but she managed to look every inch a queen, and her eye, when displeased, was like a lion's. She had really been in love with Lord Leicester, and every now and then he hoped she would marry him; indeed, there is reason to fear that he had his wife secretly killed, in order that he might be able to wed the queen; but she saw that the people would not allow her to do so, and gave it up. But she liked to be courted. She allowed foreign princes to send her their portraits, rings, and jewels, and sometimes to come and see her, but she never made up her mind to take them. And as to the gentlemen at her own court, she liked them to make the most absurd and ridiculous compliments to her, calling her their sun and goddess, and her hair golden beams of the morning, and the like; and the older she grew the more of these fine speeches she required of them. Her dress—a huge hoop, a tall ruff all over lace, and jewels in the utmost profusion— was as splendid as it could be made, and in wonderful variety. She is said to have had three hundred gowns and thirty wigs. Lord Burleigh said of her that she was sometimes more than a man, and sometimes less than a woman. And so she was, when she did not like her ladies to wear handsome dresses.

One of the people who had wanted to marry her was her brother-in-law, Philip of Spain, but she was far too wise, and he and she were bitter enemies all the rest of their lives. His subjects in Holland had become Protestants, and he persecuted them so harshly that they broke away from him. They wanted Elizabeth to be their queen, but she would not, though she sent Lord Leicester to help them with an army. With him went his nephew, Sir Philip Sydney, the most good, and learned, and graceful gentleman at court. There was great grief when Sir Philip was struck by a cannon ball in the thigh, and died after nine days pain. It was as he was being carried from the field, faint and thirsty, that some one had just brought him a cup of water, when he saw a poor soldier, worse hurt than himself, looking at it with longing eyes. He put it from him untasted, and said, "Take it, thy necessity is greater than mine."

After the execution of Mary of Scotland, Philip of Spain resolved to punish Elizabeth and the English, and force them back to obedience to the pope. He fitted out an immense fleet, and filled it with fighting men. So strong was it that, as armada is the Spanish for a fleet, it was called the Invincible Armada. It sailed for England, the men expecting to burn and ruin all before them. But the English ships were ready. Little as they were, they hunted and tormented the big Spaniards all the way up the English Channel; and, just as the Armada had passed the Straits of Dover, there came on such dreadful storms that the ships were driven and broken before it, and wrecked all round the coasts—even in Scotland and Ireland—and very few ever reached home again. The English felt that God had protected them with His wind and storm, and had fought for them.

Lord Leicester died not long after, and the queen became almost equally fond of his stepson, the Earl of Essex, who was a brave, high-spirited young man, only too proud.

The sailors of Queen Elizabeth's time were some of the bravest and most skilful that ever lived. Sir Francis Drake sailed round the world in the good ship Pelican, and when he brought her into the Thames the queen went to look at her. Sir Walter Raleigh was another great sailor, and a most courtly gentleman besides. He took out the first English settlers to North America, and named their new home Virginia—after the virgin queen—and he brought home from South America our good friend the potato root; and, also he learnt their to smoke tobacco. The first time his servant saw this done in England, he thought his master must be on fire, and threw a bucket of water over him to put it out.

The queen valued these brave men much, but she liked none so well as Lord Essex, till at last he displeased her, and she sent him to govern Ireland. There he fell into difficulties, and she wrote angry letters, which made him think his enemies were setting her against him. So he came back without leave; and one morning came straight into her dressing chamber, where she was sitting, with her thin grey hair being combed, before she put on one of her thirty wigs, or painted her face. She was very angry, and would not forgive him, and he got into a rage, too; and she heard he had said she was an old woman, crooked in temper as in person. What was far worse, he raised the Londoners to break out in a tumult to uphold him. He was taken and sent to the Tower, tried for treason, and found guilty of death. But the queen still loved him, and waited and waited for some message or token to ask her pardon. None came, and she thought he was too proud to beg for mercy. She signed the death warrant, and Essex died on the block. But soon she found that he had really sent a ring she once had given him, to a lady who was to show it to her, in token that he craved her pardon. The ring had been taken by mistake to a cruel lady who hated him, and kept it back. But by-and-by this lady was sick to death. Then she repented, and sent for the queen and gave her the ring, and confessed her wickedness. Poor Queen Elizabeth—her very heart was broken. She said to the dying woman, "God may forgive you, but I cannot." She said little more after that. She was old, and her strength failed her. Day after day she sat on a pile of cushions, with her finger on her lips, still growing weaker, and begging for the prayers the archbishop read her. And thus, she who had once been so great and spirited, sank into death, when seventy years old, in the year 1602.


JAMES I. A.D. 1602—1625.

After Queen Elizabeth's death, the next heir was James, the son of Mary of Scotland, and had reigned there ever since his mother had been driven away. He had been brought up very strictly by the Scottish Reformers, who had made him very learned, and kept him under great restraint; and all that he had undergone had tended to make him awkward and strange in his manners. He was timid, and could not bear to see a drawn sword; and he was so much afraid of being murdered, that he used to wear a dress padded and stuffed out all over with wool, which made him look even more clumsy than he was by nature.

The English did not much admire their new king, though it really was a great blessing that England and Scotland should be under the same king at last, so as to end all the long and bloody wars that had gone on for so many years. Still, the Puritans thought that, as James had been brought up in their way of thinking, they would be allowed to make all the changes that Queen Elizabeth had stopped; and the Roman Catholics recollected that he was Queen Mary's son, and that his Reformed tutors had not made his life very pleasant to him as a boy, so they had hopes from him.

But they both were wrong. James had really read and thought much, and was a much wiser man at the bottom than anyone would have thought who had seen his disagreeable ways, and heard his silly way of talking. He thought the English Church was much more in the right than either of them, and he only wished that things should go on the same in England, and that the Scots should be brought to have bishops, and to use the prayers that Christians had used from the very old times, instead of each minister praying out of his own head, as had become the custom. But though he could not change the ways of the Scots at once, he caused all the best scholars and clergymen in his kingdom to go to work to make the translation of the Bible as right and good as it could be.

Long before this was finished, however, some of the Roman Catholics had formed a conspiracy for getting rid of all the chief people in the kingdom; and so, as they hoped, bringing the rest back to the pope. There were good men among the Roman Catholics who knew such an act would be horrible; but there were some among them who had learnt to hate everyone that they did not reckon as of the right religion, and to believe that everything was right that was done for the cause of their Church. So these men agreed that on the day of the meeting of Parliament, when the king, with the queen and Prince of Wales, would all be meeting the lords and commons, they would blow the whole of them up with gunpowder; and, while the country was all in confusion, the king dead, and almost all his lords and the chief country squires, they would take the king's younger children—Elizabeth or Charles, who were both quite little—and bring one up as a Roman Catholic to govern England.

They hired some cellars under the Houses of Parliament, and stored them with barrels of gunpowder, hidden by faggots; and the time was nearly come, when one of the lords called Monteagle, received a letter that puzzled him very much, advising him not to attend the meeting of Parliament, since a sudden destruction, would come upon all who would there be present, and yet so that they would not know the doer of it. No one knows who wrote the letter, but most likely it was one of the gentlemen who had been asked to join in the plot, and, though he would not betray his friends, could not bear that Lord Monteagle should perish. Lord Monteagle took the letter to the council, and there, after puzzling over it and wondering if it were a joke, the king said gunpowder was a means of sudden destruction; and it was agreed that, at any rate, it would be safer to look into the vaults. A party was sent to search, and there they found all the powder ready prepared, and, moreover, a man with a lantern, one Guy Fawkes, who had undertaken to be the one to set fire to the train of gunpowder, hoping to escape before the explosion. However he was seized in time, and was forced to make confession. Most of the gentlemen concerned fled into the country, and shut themselves up in a fortified house; but there, strange to say, a barrel of gunpowder chanced to get lighted, and thus many were much hurt in the very way that meant to hurt others.

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