When you break the big laws, you do not get freedom; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws. — G. K. Chesterton

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Elizabethan Age

Sir Walter Raleigh was one of the men who distinguished themselves in the fight with the Armada. He was very clever; and after studying at Oxford, he fought for the Protestants in the Netherlands and in France.

Raleigh was fond of fine clothes and anxious to win the favour of the queen. So one day he dressed up in his best garments, and, placing himself in the queen's path, watched for her coming. Suddenly he saw her appear with her court, and pause in dismay at a muddy spot in the road. Rushing forward, the quick-witted Raleigh pulled off his elegant cloak and carefully spread it over the mire, thus allowing the queen to proceed without soiling her dainty shoes. This courtesy so pleased Elizabeth that she took Raleigh into favour, and soon after granted him an extensive tract of land in North America, which he called Virginia in honour of her, the Virgin Queen.

Another man highly esteemed by Elizabeth—Spenser, the author of a poem called the "Faerie Queene"—was introduced to her by Raleigh. But one of her principal courtiers was Sir Philip Sidney, who is noted for his goodness, his great talents as a writer, his beautiful manners, and especially for his truthfulness and generosity.

Shakespeare at Court of Elizabeth.

Sidney was also a brave general, and when he fell, mortally wounded, at the battle of Zutphen, in Holland, his followers were in despair. One of them succeeded with great difficulty in bringing him a little water to drink. But Sir Philip, although he was longing for it, kindly gave it to a wounded soldier lying near him, saying, "Take it, friend; thy necessity is greater than mine." A few minutes later Sidney was dead. While he is honoured for his talents and courage, every one must feel that this unselfish action just before he died is the greatest of his deeds.

Raleigh, Spenser, and Sidney were not the only men of letters, nor the greatest writers, of what is known as the Elizabethan Age. There were many other poets and prose writers whose works will some day interest you; but the greatest of them all was William Shakespeare.

This famous writer of plays came to London a poor young man, took a place as actor in a theatre, and often played before the queen. He soon discovered that he could also write plays, and he produced such fine tragedies and comedies that no other poet has ever been able to equal them, and they are now read and viewed with even more delight than in the days when he took part in them himself.

Besides the plays of Shakespeare and of the other writers of his time, Elizabeth delighted in pageants, or outdoor plays, and whenever she went to visit the great lords of her realm, they used to entertain her with such shows.

Ruins of Kenilworth Castle.

We are told that Elizabeth was very fond of making what was then called a "progress "through some part of her kingdom. On these state occasions she wore her richest garments and jewels, was carried in her litter by the noblest of her courtiers, attended by countless knights and ladies, and welcomed everywhere with music, fire-works, and festivities of all kinds.

One of the grandest of her progresses was made to the Castle of Kenilworth, where she went to visit her favourite Leicester, and where he spent a fortune to please her. All this display was very agreeable to Elizabeth, who insisted upon seeing every one well dressed. She herself wore the most gorgeous apparel, but as she was afraid lest some one else should look better in one of her dresses than she, all her garments were carefully put away, and when she died three thousand discarded gowns were found hanging in her wardrobes.


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