History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's dam is the history we made today. — Henry Ford

Story of the English - Helene Guerber




Brave King Arthur

The Angles, in the course of time, formed three kingdoms in Britain, which bore the names of Anglia, Mercia, and Northumbria. But, in speaking of the territory they occupied, they so often said that it was the Angles' land, that little by little the name was contracted into "England," and after the tenth century the whole country was known by this name.

The Saxons also formed three kingdoms, called Essex, Wessex, and Sussex, or the lands of the East, West, and South Saxons; and the Jutes took possession of that part of England which goes by the name of Kent. You see, the Britons had very little space left, and for some time they could not resist their powerful foes. But not very long after Vortigern's death, they were ruled by Arthur, a British chief whose name has become very famous, because many poets have written about him and about his great deeds.

It is so long since Arthur lived that we really know little about him; but we are told that he fought against the Saxons and defeated them in twelve great battles. Brave as Arthur was in war, he was no less gentle and courteous in peace, and the Britons were so proud of him that they were never tired of singing his praises.

After a time they began to fancy that he was more than a man; and when he finally fell in battle, and was buried in Glastonbury, they would not believe that he was dead. They said that Arthur could not die, and that when he fell, sorely wounded, the fairies carried him away to their island home at Avalon, to make him well.

They had such faith in Arthur that they thought he would come back, some day, to reign over all Britain and make his people happy. The bards, who loved to sing about Arthur, fostered this belief; and we are told that some of the descendants of the old Britons, the Welsh, as they are now called, still believe that Arthur will come back to his loving people.

After Arthur's death, the Britons were driven still farther away from their former homes, and some of them, crossing the sea, went to settle in France, in a province called Brittany. Here, and in Wales, the old Briton language is still spoken by many of the common people, and wonderful stories about King Arthur are still told by the fireside.

Many years later, when a new race had settled in England, stories of Arthur were told in every castle. As the warriors then wore armour, held tournaments, and went about to deliver the oppressed, they imagined that Arthur and his followers used to do the same. So they made up long tales about the adventures of Arthur's principal companions, who, they said, assembled in his palace at Caerleon, and held feasts there, sitting at a round table. Because they did this, they were called the Knights of the Round Table, and poets have long loved to write about them. One of the last great poets who has retold their story is Tennyson, whose "Idylls of the King "you will read with great delight.



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