Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. — John Adams

Story of the English - Helene Guerber




The Weak Rule of Henry III

Henry III., called Henry of Winchester from his birthplace, was far too young to govern, so the Earl of Pembroke became regent of the kingdom. As the crown had been lost with the rest of John's treasures, the new monarch was crowned with a plain gold circlet. He was very gentle and merciful, but unfortunately very weak in character, and as untruthful as his father. This latter fact was the cause of many troubles.

Pembroke began his rule by ratifying the Great Charter. Most of the barons, hearing of this, now joined Henry, forsaking the cause of the French prince. But the latter had landed with an army, and would not give up all hopes of the English crown without striking a blow. So the civil war went on until the French troops were defeated at Lincoln, when they gave up the struggle and went home.

Pembroke, having rid the country of the French, now ruled so wisely that he was sorely missed when he died three years later. Other noblemen took his place, but they were not so able as he, and often made trouble.

Not long after the king was declared old enough to rule alone, he sent all his advisers away. He was so young and so far from clever that he made a very poor ruler. His foreign favourites were always asking for money, so he spent more than he should. Whenever he ran short of funds he called the barons together, and the assembly of these noblemen, called Parliament, supplied him with new sums in exchange for new privileges.

The barons finally became so angry at the greediness of the foreigners that the Archbishop of Canterbury advised Henry to dismiss them if he would not lose the confidence of his people and of the pope. Henry obeyed; but not long after he married a French wife, who brought many of her friends over to England. They soon won the favour of the weak king, and, seeing that all the money given to the king was spent foolishly, Parliament refused to let him have any more. Henry now tried to get it by borrowing, by extorting it from the Jews, by selling his plate and jewels, and finally by benevolences, as he called the gifts of money which he forced his rich subjects to bestow upon him. The priests also claimed a large part of the money in England, and sent it to the pope as the tax due to him as head of the church.

These heavy taxes grew so unbearable that the barons, headed by Simon de Montfort (a clever French nobleman who had married the king's sister and had become a good Englishman) marched into Parliament, arms in hand, determined to end this bad government. When the king saw their grim faces he was frightened, and tremblingly asked, "Am I your prisoner?"

"No; you are our sovereign," answered Simon de Montfort; but he went on to explain that they were ready to obey him and give him money, only if the kingdom were governed properly. New plans were made by the Parliament; but as they brought about greater confusion, it is known in history as the Mad Parliament.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Early Times
The Druids
The Britons
Caesar in Britain
Queen Boadicea
The Great Walls
The Great Irish Saint
The Anglo-Saxons
Brave King Arthur
The Laws of the Saxons
The Story of St Augustine
Three Great Men
The Danish Pirates
King Alfred and the Cakes
Alfred conquers the Danes
A King's Narrow Escape
The King and the Outlaw
The Monasteries
An Unlucky Couple
St Dunstan
King Canute and the Waves
A Saxon Nobleman
Lady Godiva's Ride
The Battle of Hastings
The Conquest
Lords and Vassals
Death of William
The Brothers' Quarrels
Arms and Armour
The "White Ship"
Matilda's Narrow Escapes
Story of Fair Rosamond
Thomas a Becket
Murder of Thomas a Becket
Richard's Adventures
Richard and the Saracens
The Faithful Minstrel
Death of Richard
The Murder of Arthur
The Great Charter
The Rule of Henry III
A Race
Persecution of the Jews
The Conquest of Wales
A Quarrel with France
The Coronation Stone
The Insolent Favourite
Bruce and the Spider
Death of Edward II
The Murderers punished
The Battle of Crecy
The Siege of Calais
The Age of Chivalry
The Battle of Poitiers
The Peasants' Revolt
Richard's Presence of Mind
A Tiny Queen
Henry's Troubles
Madcap Harry
A Glorious Reign
The Maid of Orleans
The War of the Roses
The Queen and the Brigand
The Triumph of the Yorks
The Princes in the Tower
Richard's Punishment
Two Pretenders
A Grasping King
Field of the Cloth of Gold
The New Opinions
Death of Wolsey
Henry's Wives
The King and the Painter
A Boy King
Lady Jane Grey
The Death of Cranmer
A Clever Queen
Elizabeth's Lovers
Mary, Queen of Scots
Captivity of Mary Stuart
Wreck of the Spanish Armada
The Elizabethan Age
Death of Elizabeth
A Scotch King
The Gunpowder Plot
Sir Walter Raleigh
King and Parliament
Cavaliers and Roundheads
"Remember"
The Royal Oak
The Commonwealth
The Restoration
Plague and Fire
The Merry Monarch
James driven out of England
A Terrible Massacre
William's Wars
The Duke of Marlborough
The Taking of Gibraltar
The South Sea Bubble
Bonny Prince Charlie
Black Hole of Calcutta
Loss of the Colonies
The Battle of the Nile
Nelson's Last Signal
The Battle of Waterloo
First Gentleman of Europe
Childhood of Queen Victoria
The Queen's Marriage
Wars in Victoria's Reign
The Jubilee