The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. — Abraham Lincoln

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Monasteries

King Edred, being as simple and credulous as the people, like them imagined that Dunstan was a saint, and obeyed him in everything. Dunstan, being a priest, wanted to have only priests who shared his opinions in England, so he began to found new monasteries in different parts of the country.

These monasteries were large houses, where many men lived together under the orders of one of their number, the abbot, or prior, whom they elected to be their master. The monks, as the dwellers in monasteries were termed, were good men who thought they could best serve God by promising never to marry, always to obey their superior, and, among many other things, to lead simple and holy lives.

Near each monastery, or forming part of it, there was a church or chapel, where the monks assembled several times a day, and even in the night, to say their prayers and sing hymns. They all ate their meals together in a large hall, called the refectory; and while they ate, one of their number read aloud to them from some holy book.

Each monk had his own sleeping room, a narrow little place called a cell, where there were sometimes a hard bed, a stool, and a crucifix; but very often the monks slept on the floor, with a stone or a log of wood for a pillow. Their only covering was a rough woollen dress which they wore summer and winter, and which was often fastened around the waist by a rope.

Each monk was expected to do something for the good of the rest. Some of them studied, preached, and copied manuscripts in the monastery library, or scribarium, while others cooked, sewed, wove cloth, tilled the ground around the monastery, or watched the cows and sheep. They were good, earnest, and charitable men, so everybody loved and respected them, and the poor and ignorant often came to them for help and advice. M many people gave them land and money, the monasteries soon became very rich.

Besides the monasteries, or religious houses for men, there were similar places for women. These were called convents, or nunneries, and the women who dwelt in them, the nuns, were under the orders of an abbess, or prioress.

The nuns, besides looking after their own housekeeping, took care of the poor and sick, and taught young girls. Their main occupation, however, was needlework, in which they soon excelled. Besides sewing for themselves and for the needy, these holy women made fine lace and delicate embroidery, which they either gave to the church or sold to the wealthy.


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