In a word, Athenians are by nature incapable of either living a quiet life themselves, or of allowing anyone else to do so. — Thucydides

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Queen and the Brigand

The War of the Roses began about two years after the Hundred Years' War ended. It lasted nearly thirty years, and in it twelve battles were fought and about one hundred thousand people perished. It was in many respects worse than the Hundred Years' War, because now the English were fighting against one another, and because they displayed great cruelty and showed no mercy.

In the first great battle of the War of the Roses, that of St. Albans, the Duke of Somerset was killed, and the Yorkists captured the poor wounded king. Then for a short time the Duke of York was again protector. But the party of Lancaster rallied around the queen to continue the struggle.

The Duke of York, finding that many people were opposed to the idea of his being king, now went off to Ireland, leaving his cause in the hands of his brother-in-law, the Earl of Warwick, who was one of the richest men in England. This nobleman had lands and castles, thirty thousand people were fed at his tables every day, and as he was well liked he could raise an army whenever he pleased.

Left at the head of the Yorkist party, Warwick collected troops, and defeated the Lancastrians at the battle of Northampton. Henry VI. was again captured, and was now forced to recognize the Duke of York as his heir. But Queen Margaret, at the head of a Lancastrian army, soon defeated the Yorkists at Wakefield, and in this battle the Duke of York was killed. By Margaret's order, his head was cut off and exhibited upon the walls of York, wearing a paper crown.

Margaret, encouraged by this victory, now marched on London to deliver the captive king. But she was met on the way by Warwick, and at St. Albans a second battle took place, in which the queen was victorious. Warwick was forced to flee, leaving the king in her hands.

As Margaret's followers had disgraced themselves by plundering all along the road, London refused to admit her when she appeared, and preferred to open its gates to the new Duke of York. Warwick, who entered with him, the asked the people whether they wanted a York or a Lancaster for king, and they clamoured for a York: So Warwick led his nephew to Westminster, where he was publicly proclaimed as Edward IV., King of England.

The new king was only nineteen, but he was handsome and clever, and would have made a good ruler, had he not been cruel and self-indulgent. As the Lancastrians would not submit, he fought against them at Towton, where he celebrated his victory by being even more harsh than usual. After this battle he was formally crowned as king, and he named his two brothers, George and Richard, Dukes of Clarence and Gloucester.

Queen Margaret fled to Scotland with her helpless husband and son, and, having secured new troops by journeying twice to France, she invaded England. But the Lancastrians were again defeated in the battles of Hedgeley Moor and Hexham. The deposed king, Henry VI., escaped only because he was well mounted; but after dodging his enemies for about a year, he was betrayed into their hands. Warwick tied his feet under his horse, made him ride around the pillory (whipping post), and, after many similar indignities, thrust him into the Tower.

As for Queen Margaret, she fled with her little son. In crossing a forest, she fell into the hands of a party of brigands. While these men were quarrelling over the division of her jewels, she managed to escape with her son. But she had not gone far before she met another robber. Stepping up to him boldly, she pushed her boy towards him, saying, "Protect the son of your king."

Margaret of Anjou and the Robber.

Thus appealed to, the brigand led the queen and prince to his retreat, where he hid them for a few days. Then he helped them to cross over to France, where Queen Margaret had many friends. It was well for her that she managed to escape, for all the nobles who had sided with her were now reduced to beggary. We are told that one Lancastrian lord had to become a shepherd, and that the Countess of Oxford had to support her family by doing needlework and by begging in the streets.


Front Matter

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
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