Arrogance on the part of the meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive. — Nietzsche

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Insolent Favourite

Edward II. of Carnarvon brought many misfortunes upon himself and upon all his people by his weak character. He began his reign by breaking the promises he had made to his father. Instead of going on to Scotland, he journeyed back to London and buried the body of Edward I. in Westminster Abbey.

Even as a very young man, Edward had allowed himself to he governed by one of his attendants named Piers Gaveston. This young man was handsome and clever, but not at all good or truthful. To get presents, he flattered the prince incessantly, and used to amuse him by making fun of all the greatest men in the kingdom.

When Edward I. perceived what a bad influence Gaveston had over his son, he sent this idle favourite out of the country, and, before dying, begged the prince never to recall him. As Edward II. had already broken two promises, he soon failed to keep the third, and Gaveston was not only invited back to court, but was loaded with honours and made principal adviser of the king.

Now if Gaveston had tried to influence the king for good, and had been modest and polite to the nobles, he might have remained in this position for a long time; but he was insolent, and greedy for money and honours, and he induced the king to treat the barons so badly that they al began to hate him with all their might.

Their dismay was great, therefore, when the king named his favourite Regent of England while he went over to France to marry Isabella, a daughter of the French monarch. Yet even the pretty young bride could not comfort Edward for his favorite's absence, so he hastened back to England. At the coronation feast, which followed his return, he bestowed new honours upon Gaveston, and this so exasperated both queen and barons that they threatened to rebel unless the king sent his friend away.

To make sure that Gaveston should never come back, the nobles made Edward and his favourite swear they would never see each other again; but the pope having consented to absolve them both from this oath, Edward soon recalled Gaveston, who re-entered England only to show himself more worthless than ever.

As the king kept supplying his extravagant favourite with money, his funds soon gave out. He therefore called a Parliament at York; but the members declared they would not give him any more money so long as Gaveston was in England. The king in anger dissolved the Parliament, and called another at Westminster. As he had in the meantime sent his favourite abroad, this Parliament gave him funds, after making him promise to call a Parliament at least once a year.

Edward II. and Piers Gaveston.

The barons, who had come to Westminster determined to wrest this and sundry other promises from their monarch, looked so fierce that he did not dare to refuse. He therefore sent orders to Gaveston not to come back, and set out for Scotland, where his presence was needed. But even before he reached the border, his longing for Gaveston made him again break his word and recall his favourite for the third time.

This breach of faith roused the barons to action. Seeing that their king would be the tool of this bad man as long as the latter lived, they captured Gaveston, who was soon after executed at Warwick Castle, by order of the king's cousin, the Earl of Lancaster. Edward was so furious with the barons for putting his favourite to death that he wanted to make war against them; but trouble in Scotland soon forced him not only to make peace with the nobles, but to implore them to help him.


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