Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. — Winston Churchill

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Coronation Stone

His wife being dead, Edward now married the sister of the French king, and promised that Edward Carnarvon, the Prince of Wales, should marry a daughter of the same monarch. In all these years Edward had never lost sight of his principal ambition, to annex Scotland, and when the Scotch king died, a few years before, he had tried to make a match between his son and the baby queen of that realm. This little creature was called the Maid of Norway, because she had gone to live in that country; but on her way back to Scotland to be crowned, she was taken ill, and died on the Orkney Islands.

Thirteen different members of the royal family claimed the vacant throne of the Maid of Norway. Bruce and Baliol were the only ones who had any real right to succeed her, but as the Scotch could not decide which of the two should reign, they asked Edward to act as umpire and settle the matter.

After some consideration, Edward decided in favour of Baliol, but let him have the crown only on condition that Baliol should do homage to him for Scotland. The new Scotch king soon regretted having yielded to this demand, for several times, for mere trifles, Edward made him come to London to give an account of himself.

Annoyed by this interference, Baliol soon began to plot, and, helped by the Scots, who did not like to see their sovereign the vassal of an English king, he invaded England four years after he had been crowned at Scone. Edward made use of this attack as an excuse to make war against Scotland, and after defeating Baliol at Dunbar, brought him a prisoner to London.

The Coronation Chair

All Scotland was soon reduced to obedience and annexed to England. Its great seal was broken, and its famous coronation stone was carried away to Westminster Abbey and placed in the seat of a throne. The loss of this stone was a great sorrow to the Scots. They said it was the stone that Jacob had used for a pillow when he dreamed that he saw the angels of God ascending and descending a wonderful ladder which reached from heaven to earth. Besides that, there was an ancient prophecy which said:

"Should fate not fail, where'er this stone be found,

The Scot shall monarch of that realm be crowned."

The Scots, who had always been independent, were not satisfied to send members to the new English Parliament; so one of their patriot princes, the heroic William Wallace, called them to help him free their country.

After defeating the English forces at Stirling Bridge, and ravaging the northern provinces of England, Wallace was named Guardian of Scotland. But, one year after his first victory, he was defeated by Edward at the battle of Falkirk, and Scotland was again forced to yield. During the next few years Wallace dwelt in the mountains and waged an incessant petty war against the English; but he was finally betrayed into their hands.

Then he was taken to London, tried, and condemned to death for treason. He was drawn and quartered in the most barbarous way, and his head was set up on London Bridge. Yet, although he was dead, the Scots did not forget him; and when they heard how cruelly he had been treated, they rallied once more to fight the English.

Trial of Sir William Wallace.

Robert Bruce, a grandson of the Bruce who had disputed the throne with Baliol, was then a hostage at Edward's court. One day he received a purse of gold and a pair of spurs—a message which he readily understood; and, biding his time, he escaped on a fast horse whose shoes had been reversed so that he should not be tracked.

When Bruce arrived in Scotland, he met his ally Comyn, the son-in-law of Baliol, in a church. There they quarrelled, and Bruce, drawing his dagger, struck Comyn down, and then rushed out and told his followers what he had done. They cried that Comyn was a traitor, and went into the building, where they stabbed him again and again to make sure he should not escape. Bruce was crowned in 1306, and the Scots promptly rallied around him. But in spite of all his valour, and the devotion of his subjects, the English defeated him and forced him to flee to Ireland.

After this victory Edward showed himself very cruel to the Scots, whom he treated as rebels; and when they persisted in rebellion, under Bruce's untiring leadership, he was very angry. Although already so ill that he had to be carried in a horse-litter, he would not rest until he had seen his orders carried out. But when he reached Carlisle, feeling that his end was near, he called his son to his bedside, bade him never rest until all Scotland was conquered, and asked that his body be carried ahead of the army which he had hoped to lead himself. Thus died Edward I., who, although brave and clever, was a very cruel king. He reigned thirty-five years, and was succeeded by his son Edward, the first Prince of Wales (1307).


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